Friday, March 23, 2007

Fayette Judge: county voter database needs update

When I heard Fayette County Judge Steve Leskinen utter "the county voter database needs updated" on the final day of a 4-day hearing in court - Roberts v. Lally - I almost jumped out of my seat.

Judge Leskinen got it exactly right. But then the Judge noted county resources were lacking.

Say what? It is the obligation of county commissioners who comprise both the Registration Commission and the Election Board, during the time they are not candidates for re-election, to ensure the citizens and voters of the county have a clean and accurate voter registration database.

The excuse that the county doesn't have the resources just can't stand one more day.

It is time for someone like Judge Steve Leskinen to order the county to clean up its voter registration database.

During this election cycle, in fact, the election board, at least, possibly the Registration Commission as well, are comprised of others than the commissioners.

To my knowledge, a judge appointed two Republicans (as that party holds the majority position in the county) and one Democrat to comprise the Election Board.

It is time for that board to act to initiate a process in the county to make sure that each and every name and address on the voter registration database is ACCURATE.

There is more than enough time for that process to begin before November of 2007 and the General Election.

No one is suggesting a blanket purge of qualified and valid voters.

But it became sickeningly obvious during the proceedings in Judge Leskinen's court that the potential existed for many, many, many names and addresses in the database to be "abused."

In fact, during the testimony of Document Examiner Michele Dresbold, she compared signatures which were original to voter registration cards (entered into the database by scanning) and the signatures on the Lally petitions.

In her professional estimation, many, many, many simply did not match.

Election Bureau director Laurie Lint also testified that the county database was not yet revamped to dispense with what are known as PO (post office) boxes.

Lint couldn't find as well names of several signers of the petitions in the county database of registered voters. She was not asked to testify about the complete 70 names presented as questioned as to mismatched names and addresses. Lint was asked last Friday to review records to determine whether those who may have moved out of a municipality in the county, or out of the count, had used the one more chance voting, had not submitted a change of address, and had been sent confirmation of address and residency mailings from the county.

Only one woman came in to testify she was registered in Greene County to vote but had signed Lally's petition. She did state she had never been registered in Fayette County.

Other woman who may not have changed from their maiden name to a married name and who may have moved out of the county or the state years ago were not subject to a court appearance. How many names of such remain on the voter registration list?

How many others remain when individuals have died, or moved out of the county or state? Fayette's voter registration database is comprised of some 80,000 plus names, (some 86,000 possible), after the computerized database was implemented.

This is in a county with a population base of 149,000, approximately. You do the math. It simply isn't believable that more than half of the population of the county are registered to vote.

The fact that names remain on the county voter listing which should not be there is a travesty to every valid voter in the county, the state, and the nation.

Judge Leskinen also noted during the proceedings that signatures did not match the original voter registration cards. He said a layman could determine that.

The Judge did not remove any name from Lally's petition which was not tagged as challenged in Robert's complaint as to petition number, line number, and reason.

I found it puzzling however when a Document Examiner testified as to defects on lines, and potential possible additional forgery, that the complaint had to specify what a non-expert could not know. Signatures didn't match. Laymen could see that, said Judge Leskinen.

The court should have given time, even time it may not have had, for the those names to go through the subpoena process, again, as it was acknowledged that some people didn't show up per previous subpoena.

The concept as stated by the judge that the presumption is the elector is valid and must be proven to be disqualified or with defect is not a bad one during a proceeding such as the nomination petition challenge.

However, it is a bad one for duly elected officials of the county (who take oaths of office)to continue using a database of registered voters which may be flawed, using the same reasoning.

The registry must be as clean as possible to secure and retain the rights of valid registered voters.

It couldn't be more simple than that.

Board should appoint inspectors of voter registration

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