Friday, October 10, 2008

Note the wide use of wording like appear to violate federal law... in New York Times article

States' Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal

while of course, no eligible voter should be removed from the voter registration rolls, any and all ineligible voters should.

election officials are in a bind in some respects by not having culled voter registration rolls since enactment of the Motor Voter Act of 1994. Many names are left on the voter rolls because officials are hesitant to remove out of fear they will face a lawsuit the likes of presidential year 2000...

Had boards of election, however, sitting as the registration commissions in Pennsylvania, begun a review of county records, notified questionable electors of a potential for removal before an upcoming election - 90 days out from that election - at the least many names could have been removed in an efficient manner.

In most states, such reviews have not been conducted not only since 1994, but for some 50 years!

Thus the voter rolls are bloated and very likely filled with names of deceased and persons who not only have not voted for two federal elections but who have moved out of the state entirely.

this election is going to be the test of local databases of voters.

Should even one or two or a handful of names show up as having voted this election, names which should have been removed 8 years ago or 4 years ago, our elected public officials should have some major explaining to do.

Net the Truth Online

Black Box Voting dotcom tackles NYT article, tags as misleading

Thursday, October 9. 2008
Times story on voter databases gets it wrong on North Carolina
Rumor control. New York Times article misleading. The NY Times yesterday ran a thinly researched article on voter purges in several states including North Carolina, “States’ Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal” (10/08/08) . It uses lots of vague talk like “seems,” “appears,” or “may have . . .,” without much elaboration or direct reporting. The NY Times reporter did not cite comments from any North Carolina election officials or any local advocacy groups.

The NY Times reporter even seems to clear North Carolina in his response to my email asking what was going on. Read it here:

From: Ian Urbina
To: joyce mccloy
Subject: RE:
Date: Oct 9, 2008 9:03 AM
From what we can see in the data, NC does not seem to have any major red
flags. Best we can tell, it looks like the number of people coming off the
rolls would roughly correspond with the number of people leaving the state
or dying during that period (both of which are legitimate reasons to remove
people within 90 days before an election).


-----Original Message-----
From: joyce mccloy
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2008 8:54 AM
Subject: FW:

Here a North Carolina reporter does some investigating, makes some phone calls, and the story is much different:

Times story on voter databases called 'very misleading' Thursday, October 9 By Mark Binker Staff Writer

The Times story said that North Carolina had been warned that it was checking an abnormally large number of social security numbers against a federal database and that federal officials were worried the state could be improperly excluding voters.

But Elections Director Gary Bartlett said Social Security Numbers were only being checked in the case where a drivers' license or other acceptable form of identification has not been provided.

...North Carolina has registered more than 700,000 new voters since the beginning of the year and may top 800,000 by Nov. 1. Of those, about 400,000 have been run through the federal Social Security database.

The state, Bartlett said, had a high number of universities, military personnel and businesses that bring people in from out of state. Often those people don't have drivers' likenesses when they register to vote and therefore use their Social Security Number to verify their identity.

No one is denied registration if their Social Security number does not match said Bartlett and local elections officials. ...

...The NY Times should be investigating the Social Security Dept who will be shutting their database down right in the middle of voter registration:

States' Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal

Published: October 8, 2008

Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states
have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from
registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to
a review of state records and Social Security data by The New York

The actions do not seem to be coordinated by one party or the other,
nor do they appear to be the result of election officials
intentionally breaking rules, but are apparently the result of
mistakes in the handling of the registrations and voter files as the
states tried to comply with a 2002 federal law, intended to overhaul
the way elections are run.

Still, because Democrats have been more aggressive at registering new
voters this year, according to state election officials, any
heightened screening of new applications may affect their party's
supporters disproportionately. The screening or trimming of voter
registration lists in the six states — Colorado, Indiana, Ohio,
Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina — could also result in problems
at the polls on Election Day: people who have been removed from the
rolls are likely to show up only to be challenged by political party
officials or election workers, resulting in confusion, long lines and
heated tempers.

Some states allow such voters to cast provisional ballots. But they
are often not counted because they require added verification.

Although much attention this year has been focused on the millions of
new voters being added to the rolls by the candidacy of Senator
Barack Obama, there has been far less notice given to the number of
voters being dropped from those same rolls.

States have been trying to follow the Help America Vote Act of 2002
and remove the names of voters who should no longer be listed; but
for every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some
states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records

The six swing states seem to be in violation of federal law in two
ways. Michigan and Colorado are removing voters from the rolls within
90 days of a federal election, which is not allowed except when
voters die, notify the authorities that they have moved out of state,
or have been declared unfit to vote.

Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio seem to be improperly using
Social Security data to verify registration applications for new

In addition to the six swing states, three more states appear to be
violating federal law. Alabama and Georgia seem to be improperly
using Social Security information to screen registration applications
from new voters. And Louisiana appears to have removed thousands of
voters after the federal deadline for taking such action.

Under federal law, election officials are supposed to use the Social
Security database to check a registration application only as a last
resort, if no record of the applicant is found on state databases,
like those for driver's licenses or identification cards.

The requirement exists because using the federal database is less
reliable than the state lists, and is more likely to incorrectly flag
applications as invalid. Many state officials seem to be using the
Social Security lists first.

In the year ending Sept. 30, election officials in Nevada, for
example, used the Social Security database more than 740,000 times to
check voter files or registration applications and found more than
715,000 nonmatches, federal records show. Election officials in
Georgia ran more than 1.9 million checks on voter files or voter
registration applications and found more than 260,000 nonmatches.

Officials of the Social Security Administration, presented with those
numbers, said they were far too high to be cases where names were not
in state databases. They said the data seem to represent a violation
of federal law and the contract the states signed with the agency to
use the database.

Last week, after the inquiry by The Times, Michael J. Astrue, the
commissioner of the Social Security Administration, alerted the
Justice Department to the problem and sent letters to election
officials in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and
Ohio. The letters ask the officials to ensure that they are complying
with federal law.

"It is absolutely essential that people entitled to register to vote
are allowed to do so," Mr. Astrue said in a press release.

In three states — Colorado, Louisiana and Michigan — the number of
people purged from the election rolls since Aug. 1 far exceeds the
number who may have died or relocated during that period.

States may be improperly removing voters who have moved within the
state, election experts said, or who are considered inactive because
they have failed to vote in two consecutive federal elections. For
example, major voter registration drives have been held this year in
Colorado, which has also had a significant population increase since
the last presidential election, but the state has recorded a net loss
of nearly 100,000 voters from its rolls since 2004.

Asked about the appearance of voter law violations, Rosemary E.
Rodriguez, the chairwoman of the federal Election Assistance
Commission, which oversees elections, said they could
present "extremely serious problems."

"The law is pretty clear about how states can use Social Security
information to screen registrations and when states can purge their
rolls," Ms. Rodriguez said.

Nevada officials said the large number of Social Security checks had
resulted from county clerks entering Social Security numbers and
driver's license numbers in the wrong fields before records were sent
to the state. They could not estimate how many records might have
been affected by the problem, but they said it was corrected several
weeks ago.

Other states described similar problems in entering data.

Under the Help America Vote Act, all states were required to build
statewide electronic voter registration lists to standardize and
centralize voter records that had been kept on the local level. To
prevent ineligible voters from casting a ballot, states were also
required to clear the electronic lists of duplicates, people who had
died or moved out of state, or who had become ineligible for other

Voting rights groups and federal election officials have raised
concerns that the methods used to add or remove names vary by state
and are conducted with little oversight or transparency. Many states
are purging their lists for the first time and appear to be
unfamiliar with the 2002 federal law.

"Just as voting machines were the major issue that came out of the
2000 presidential election and provisional ballots were the big issue
from 2004, voter registration and these statewide lists will be the
top concern this year," said Daniel P. Tokaji, a law professor at
Ohio State University.

Voting rights groups have urged voters to check their registrations
with local officials.

In Michigan, some 33,000 voters were removed from the rolls in
August, a figure that is far higher than the number of deaths in the
state during the same period — about 7,100 — or the number of people
who moved out of the state — about 4,400, according to data from the
Postal Service.

In Colorado, some 37,000 people were removed from the rolls in the
three weeks after July 21. During that time, about 5,100 people moved
out of the state and about 2,400 died, according to postal data and
death records.

In Louisiana, at least 18,000 people were dropped from the rolls in
the five weeks after July 23. Over the same period, at least 1,600
people moved out of state and at least 3,300 died.

The secretaries of state in Michigan and Colorado did not respond to
requests for comment. A spokesman for the Louisiana secretary of
state said that about half of the numbers of the voters removed from
the rolls were people who moved within the state or who died. The
remaining 11,000 or so people seem to have been removed by local
officials for other reasons that were not clear, the spokesman said.

The purge estimates were calculated using data from state election
officials, who produce a snapshot every month or so of the voter
rolls with details about each registered voter on record, making it
possible to determine how many have been removed.

The Times's methodology for calculating the purge estimates was
reviewed by two voting experts, Kimball Brace, the director of
Election Data Services, a Washington consulting firm that tracks
voting trends, and R. Michael Alvarez, a political science professor
at the California Institute of Technology.

By using the Social Security database so extensively, states are
flagging extra registrations and creating extra work for local
officials who are already struggling to process all the registration
applications by Election Day.

"I simply don't have the staff to keep up," said Ann McFall, the
supervisor of elections in Volusia County, Fla.

It takes 10 minutes to process a normal registration and up to a week
to deal with a flagged one, said Ms. McFall, a Republican, adding
that she was receiving 100 or so flagged registrations a week.

Usually, when state election officials check a registration and find
that it does not match a database entry, they alert local election
officials to contact the voter and request further proof of
identification. If that is not possible, most states flag the voter
file and require identification from the voter at the polling place.

In Florida, Iowa, Louisiana and South Dakota, the problem is more
serious because voters are not added to the rolls until the states
remove the flags.

Ms. McFall said she was angry to learn from the state recently that
it was her responsibility to contact each flagged voter to clear up
the discrepancies before Election Day. "This situation with voter
registrations is going to land us in court," she said.

In fact, it already has.

In Michigan and Florida, rights groups are suing state officials,
accusing them of being too aggressive in purging voter rolls and of
preventing people from registering.

In Georgia, the Justice Department is considering legal action
against the state because officials in Cobb and Cherokee Counties
sent letters to hundreds of voters stating that their voter
registrations had been flagged and telling them they cannot vote
until they clear up the discrepancy.

On Monday, the Ohio Republican Party filed a motion in federal court
against the secretary of state to get the list of all names that have
been flagged by the Social Security database since Jan. 1. The motion
seeks to require that any voter who does not clear up a discrepancy
be required to vote using a provisional ballot.

Republicans said in the motion that it is central to American
democracy that nonqualified voters be forbidden from voting.

The Ohio secretary of state, Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, said in
court papers that she believes the Republicans are seeking grounds to
challenge voters and get them removed from the rolls.

Considering that in the past year the state received nearly 290,000
nonmatches, such a plan could have significant impact at the polls.

More Articles in US » A version of this article appeared in print on
October 9, 2008, on page A1 of the New York edition.

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