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Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia. Those in Pennsylvania can start worrying next year.

Keep checking back, because purges may be ongoing. And alert your friends!

All these states are now participants in the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck,” a program administered by the Kansas Board of Elections (with help from Arkansas) since 2005 that purports to identify "potential" duplicate voter registrations. It is now offered by the state of Kansas as a service to other states at no charge. Twenty-six have signed on. Pennsylvania will implement only next year.

Here in Virginia, which just joined this program, it appears to be causing some properly registered voters be kicked off the election rolls inappropriately, just as the registration deadline approaches for the upcoming November elections.

In my Virginia county, this purge has not yet happened, but it’s coming, I have learned.

I started looking into this after rodentrancher posted a diary about a letter from the Accomack County, Va., registrar’s office informing him he had been removed from the Virginia voting rolls,  on the grounds that he had moved to South Carolina.

In fact, he had moved from South Carolina some time back, updated his registration properly, voted in Virginia last year and, on double checking, confirmed that he is no longer on the South Carolina voter registration list. Nevertheless, he had been purged from the Virginia voter rolls. Oddly enough, not his wife.....just him. He talked to his local registrar’s office and was able to learn that the Virginia Board of Elections had sent the local election boards a spreadsheet of 350,000 names to be expunged from the rolls. But rodentrancher’s contact either didn’t know or didn’t explain the full background.

For more information about rodentrancher’s experience, the diary is here http://www.dailykos.com/.... (In the comment section he responded to a variety of questions and there are other worthwhile comments.)  
.
Another Virginia Kossack, Old Redneck, checked and discovered that he had also vanished from the list of registered voters: http://www.dailykos.com/... .  Again, the individual found himself purged, but his wife remained registered. Old Redneck apparently had received zero notification, before or after the fact. He added:

Funny thing is, I'm the chief election official at our polling place!!
I’m in Arlington County, Va. I checked my own name in the Virginia database (https://www.vote.virginia.gov/...) and verified that I was still on it–-for the present.  I then contacted the Arlington County registrar’s office.

The person with whom I spoke confirmed that the Virginia Board of Elections recently sent the county a list of names to be purged from the voter rolls.

And...what is more...the voter list purge in Arlington County has not taken place yet, but it will. Today is September 4. Voter registration closes October 15.

Arlington County, I was told, was the last county to receive its purge list, after all of the other counties in Virginia. Coincidentally or not, this is a reliably "blue" jurisdiction. (Two out of three Arlington board of elections members are Republican, however, because the governor is Republican, and that’s the rule.)

The person I spoke with had no information on when the Arlington County purge would take place, whether those removed would be notified either in advance or afterwards, or what protections are in place to prevent wrongful removal. The official registrar was tied up in an all-day meeting. Hm, I wonder why?

Separately, and with helpful cues from commenters in rodentrancher’s diary, I dug down into the background.

Several news articles were informative, including these, from the Richmond Times-Dispatch at http://www.timesdispatch.com/... , and the Patriot-News in central Pennsylvania at http://www.pennlive.com/....

These made it pretty clear we are dealing with fallout from something called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck emanating from Kansas. Primary sources, however, appeared scarce to nonexistent.

After trying multiple search variations, at last I somehow turned up a PowerPoint presentation given by an official of the Kansas election director’s office this January. Document may be viewed by going to:

www.nased.org/NASED_Winter_2013_PP_Presentations/KANSAS.pdf

NOTE: I would like to post excerpts in graphical format but lack skills and current software.

Here’s a summary of some of its points:

In 2012 the Kansas Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program compared more than 45 milion voter records in 15 states.

Here’s how it works, in theory, according to the document:

--Each state pulls data on January 15 each year using prescribed data format
--Upload data to secure FTP site (hosted by Arkansas)
--Kansas IT department pulls data, runs comparison, uploads results to FTP site
--Each state downloads results from FTP site, processes them according to state laws & regulations
--Kansas deletes all other states’ data
In 2012 the program claims to have identified more than 1.2 million “potential duplicate voters” based on three items: first name, last name, date of birth. (I got this figure by totaling state-by-state numbers on page 11 of the document).

Between 2008 and 2010 (three-year period), the program claims to have identified a total of 25 “double votes”–-people who voted twice--as referred for possible prosecution: 15 involving Kansas, four in Arizona and Colorado, and six unspecified.

How many properly registered voters went to the polls and found themselves not on the books is not stated.

Somehow, the last 4 digits of SSN and middle name at least are supposed to be accounted for at some point in the process. I’m not sure how that squares up with touting large numbers of “potential duplicate votes” based on only first and last names plus birth date. There is no detailed information on the sorting process. I’m not sure how much even the participating states are allowed to know about the programming details.

Apparently, however, each state gets a raft load of “potential duplicates” and bears the main burder of sorting through them using some kind of procedures they have to develop on their own. Apparently at least some states are pushing this responsibility down to the county level. The Richmond Times-Dispatch article suggests that Virginia state officials were still at sea as of this spring, let alone the counties.

County officials may be inadequately trained or prepared to cope. Some conceivably might even in desperation decide to just excise all the names and let the individuals voters fight it on Election Day. We don't know. This has had very little publicity, all told. Where is the t4ransparency?  

Here is how a state commits to joining:

How Can a State Join the Crosscheck?

1. Chief State Election Official signs the Memorandum Understanding (MOU)

2. CSEO assigns two staff members:
- one election administration person
- one IT person

3. Staff members will:
- participate in annual conference call and email
- pull VR data in January
- receive cross check results and process
- instruct local elections officials (respond to requests for addresses, signatures on poll books, etc.)

Just before an election, like now, is the worst possible time to be trying to implement something like this at the last minute, unless of course confusion and time-wasting work to your advantage.

But implementing it at all is questionable to me. More connectivity is not always a good thing. Even with the best will in the world, this process subjects voters in Virginia to potential disenfranchisement from problems in so many interlocking layers of orgainzation where they have no control and may not even be able to get any information:

–Problems with overall program model
–Lousy software in Kansas
–Human errors or IT breakdowns in Kansas
–Human errors or IT breakdowns in Arkansas
–Errors or problems in any other participating state
–Errors or poor implementation practices in hands of Virginia board of election personnel
–Errors or bad implementation practices in hands of county and city election personnel
–Lack of training at any level
–Miscommunications at any level
–Shortage of time and resources in local registars’ office

For example, rodentrancher apparently was removed because someone was using a South Carolina voter list from 2009!

Is this legal?

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Once a dual match has been confirmed as accurate, Section 8 of the National Voting Rights Act allows the removal of voters from the rolls only if they either confirm in writing that they changed their address or fail to respond to a notice and fail to vote in the next two federal general elections.

rodentrancher’s experience suggests that Accomack County may not have been meeting that legal requirement.

Suing might be a good idea, but also a huge absorber of resources.

Finally, as pointed out by a commenter to rodentranchers diary, why go through all this?  Some  states use a smple method system to notify other states when a new person moving from somewhere else registers as a voter. (New Mexico was cited as an example.) The old state can then remove the voter from the rolls.

Most voter duplications that do exist are admittedly not from fraud, they happen when people don’t know they are required to separately unregister in one place and re-register in the other. So far as we know only a tiny handful of people, like single digits annually, may actually vote twice almost exclusively a paeprwork issue?

Anyway, it would be less work for all states to notify each other automatically of changes instead of doing this whole exercise annually, and finally, if there is to be central coordination of voter registration information around the US, why rely on another state? If we really need it, shouldn’t it be nonpartisan and federal?

Even if you're from one of the other states, apparently you could be facing the same kind of thing. So please check your registration and keep checking.

I'm afraid we all need to get after our state and local election boards to be more transparent about what they are doing here. If you find out anything more, how about a diary? Or message me? And do you have any connections to somebody who might be worth notifying? Department of Justice? Congress?  Media?

As one starting point it would be interesting to get hold of the Memorandum of Understanding, seems like it should be available from state governments under Sunshine laws.

Another note: I have balky software and a slow connection that makes some basic things impossible (like editing a diary draft!) I borrowed a computer for a short time just to post this. If anything looks funny or I seem to be commenting in the wrong place in response to your comments, that’s why. I can get and send Kos messages okay though. And I do mean to fix.

Originally posted to Clio2 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 02:57 PM PDT.

Also republished by Motor City Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Moved Within County In Ohio. (8+ / 0-)

    That would seem to present an ideal chance to be flagged as a potential double voter.

    As of last week we were properly registered in our new location. We'll certainly keep monitoring.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 03:15:56 PM PDT

  •  So the taxpayers of Kansas are subsidizing (6+ / 0-)

    the Secretary of State offices in up to 23 other states by providing free access to a computer system and software that had to have been developed at great cost, and on hardware that cost the taxpayers of Kansas dearly.

    So we have the resources of the State of Kansas being expended to do voter suppression in nearly half the states, which represent well over half the population of the United States of America.

    Why should the taxpayers not run the people who allowed this outrage remain in office.  People in government get fired for using their desk computers for personal use.  Why shouldn't officeholders in Kansas be fired for wasting the resources of Kansas?

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 03:17:42 PM PDT

  •  Clio2, nice diary. nt (4+ / 0-)

    Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

    by Ohiodem1 on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 03:18:10 PM PDT

  •  This should be a big story (4+ / 0-)

    One that evidently will take a lot of resources and contacts to unwind.  Shared on twitter, but this needs some serious investigative effort!

    Where ignorance is our master, there is no possibility of real peace. - Dalai Lama

    by kimoconnor on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 04:17:42 PM PDT

  •  Tipped, rec'd, will share on Facebook (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this diary, Clio.  The Rethugs tried something like this in 2003 or 2004.  I learned about it on the DeanForAmerica blog. Rove's minions would send anonymous notes to the county registrar informing them that a given voter had moved, so was no longer eligible to vote in that district.

    Well, I called the Fairfax County registrar and learned, to my bone-dissolving horror, that I had been disenfranchised!  Someone, the election official wouldn't tell me who, had written a note to say that I had moved from the address on my voter registration.  Well, I pointed out astringently that I had lived in the same goddamn house for more than 30 years and had paid property taxes on that same house, records she could damn well check.  I screeched, I threatened, I demanded to see that note--I knew it wouldn't be in my handwriting--until finally she removed the note from my record or whatever the hell it was.

    It just goes to show, as does this diary, that you have to keep checking all the time, because the Rethugs are well aware they can't win on merit.  They have to cheat to win.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 05:00:52 PM PDT

  •  was very surprised to see Oregon on the list! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rodentrancher, Ahianne

    just called my county elections board and the gal hadn't heard anything about it but said she'd look into it.

    with Oregon's vote-by-mail I really don't see how they could expect to pull off this type of scam! If you don't return your ballot 3 times in a row, you get suspended automatically and have to go in to an office, in person, to 'splain and get re-instated. as I understand it.

    we've had Dem Sec's of State for decades, and last I heard the checks had NEVER turned up any kind of fraud. in at least 2 decades!

    ah. maybe this is what's being identified as this ... an idea of the (D) Sec of State to automatically register anybody going through the DMV! says only 75% of eligible voters ARE registered... and she thought this would get a lot of the remaining 25%. It passed handily in the House, but went down by one vote in the Senate, some doofus Dem was yabbering about voter fraud!!! I'll have to look into HER! I hadn't known anything about this so thanks much for the list at the top! I'll be calling the local board back next week to see if they've figured out any more! automatic voter registration bill, HB 3571

    "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

    by chimene on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 06:28:04 PM PDT

  •  Response to commenter in Oregon (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, rodentrancher, Ahianne

    whose registrar never heard of this (sorry this has to be a fresh comment thread, software issue)...

    Oregon is spcifically claimed as a participant in the PowerPoint I found, which is "the horse's mouth." Check it out:

    www.nased.org/NASED_Winter_2013_PP_Presentations/KANSAS.pdf

    Oregon sems to be a fairly recent entrant. It may be they are even more behindhand than Virginia, or that participation isn't fully ramping up till next year, like Pennsylvania.

    •  well, the person I spoke to was NOT the registrar (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rodentrancher, Ahianne

      and said she was new, had "only been there a few days".

      OK, I looked at the PowerPoint. I only found one mention of Oregon, on the "map as of Jan 10, 2013".

      I'm still looking to find "voter fraud in Oregon" -- most of what I've turned up so far either refers back to the Heritage Foundation (!); but there was this dimbulb. You'll note, she got caught red-handed, and  

      Swenson is the 13th person to be prosecuted for voter fraud since Oregon went to all vote-by-mail elections in 2000. During that time frame, 23.8 million ballots were cast in statewide elections in Oregon.

      "real" work : a job where you wash your hands BEFORE you use the bathroom...

      by chimene on Wed Sep 04, 2013 at 07:13:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry for my careless reading (0+ / 0-)

        If you learn anything more about the status in Oregon, I would be glad to know.

        The Pennsylvania newspaper piece I linked to in the diary also included Oregon on the list of participants.

  •  Thanks for the followup Clio2 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OldDragon, Ahianne

    Much appreciated.

    The IT "system" for this sounds like quite the kludge. Files from multiple different state systems being FTP'd to Kansas to be sorted and matched by keys that can't be counted on to be truly unique, then sent back to (at least in Virginia) be turned into Excel files and then split out to county registrars.

    What an unbelievable mess.

  •  Thank _you_ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne

    rodentrancher, for bringing a problem to light and for your take on the whole thing. "Kludge" seems to about say it.

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