Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fayette Not Among Counties Purged Ineligibles To Wait Years

Highlighting the Tribune-Review article More than 200,000 state voters purged
brings up the status of Fayette County authorized review and purge of ineligible names on the county voter registration rolls.

A purge of ineligible voters from Pennsylvania's voter registration rolls must follow stringent election requirements. Obviously, Allegheny County's voter rolls needed a review as of 200,000 names removed in some counties in PA, some 53,000 of them hailed from Allegheny County, alone.

Remember, too, if unfortunate and unavoidable errors occur, a name is removed from the listing by mistake, notice of removal is sent to the person long in advance of deadlines to register to vote. In the case of an error in removal of a name, the individual notified of the removal would have an adequate amount of time to re-register, and/or decline the opportunity.

A purge must be completed within 90 days of an election.

So there would be ample time for individuals whose names have been scheduled to be removed erroneously to re-register. It may be a hassle to do so, but in the interest of as accurate a voter database as possible, the paper-work hassle is a small price to pay.

We have pressed for years for the County of Fayette to complete a full review of the county's voter rolls.

Fayette County commissioners unanimously passed a measure last May 8 to have the county Election Bureau develop a plan to conduct a purge, with some specified directions this be completed within the 90-day window before a federal election.

Fayette County Board of Commissioners Thursday, May 8, 2008

Election Bureau
Moved by Commissioner Vicites and seconded by Commissioner Zimmerlink to develop a plan to purge voter records

Commissioner Zapotosky Aye
Commissioner Vicites Aye
Commissioner Zimmerlink Aye

Motion passed unanimously

Laurie Lint Director of Election Bureau states she will try to have the records ready for the next Commissioners meeting. Commissioner Zapotosky informed Mrs. Lint that we have 90 days. The Federal Law requires us to have the records done 90 days prior to the next Election. Commissioner Zimmerlink questioned the Director if she will have a plan ready in June. She replied she had to check on that. Commissioner Vicites informed Mrs. Lint she needs to get started on records as soon as
possible. He added that we have many people that will never vote again for different reasons for example some may be deceased. He said we need to clean those up to make sure they are as accurate as possible.

Commissioner Zimmerlink stated that prior to 2004, a voter purge was done on a smaller scale and in 2006, and another purge was done in conjunction with mailing 21,000 new voter machine information affecting 30,000 voters. The Director confirmed this and Commissioner Zimmerlink said the County has since discussed another purge

See budget copy 2006 Voter Registration Purge amount dedicated

Just a couple of weeks later, to citizen inquiry, Chairman Vincent Zapotosky assured the purge was in progress.

However, due to public revealation the Election Bureau director had a conflict in advance vacation scheduling at the time, such a plan was forestalled past last year's 90-day requirement, and was actually put off until this year. At that, even though official notices reportedly have been sent to some thousands of potential ineligible voters, names will not be able to be removed until two more federal elections pass!

We've pressed long ago for the board of commissioners sitting in the capacity of the county Registration Commission to begin its own review of the county voter registration rolls.

To date, no commissioner has opted to undertake a duty they could perform - act as a registrar of elections - cause a thorough review of the county voter rolls to be done and utilizing any necessary personnel including hiring and appointing an "inspector" or inspectors of voter registration.

We think letting the voter registration rolls in Fayette County continue as-is for another potential 4 to 5 years - admitted to be inaccurate by the elected officials (members of the board of commissioners who also comprise the county Registration Commission)- is simply unconscionable.

We've provided information over the years citing election law as well that shows the capacity for a review any member of the Fayette County Registration Commission possesses (as do all other such county Registration Commission members in PA).

In fact, years ago, 1999-2000, a review of the county voter rolls was started, with the aid of a state-wide advocate for clean elections, the Voter Integrity Project, but it never was completed.

The VIP group researched the status of the county's voter rolls and generated a preliminary report that all subsequent Registration Commission members have had available to them.

So for some 9-years this report has been available as a starting point for subsequent re-elected incumbents and newly elected board members since then.

Further, since the late '90s, when an investigation into voter and election fraud ensued to the point a Fayette Grand Jury convened and initiated indictments, one involving former Congressman Austin Murphy, the Grand Jury's report which proclaimed the inaccuracy of the voter rolls at that time, all commissioners either re-elected or newly elected, have had if nothing else that motivation to to initiate a review of the county voter rolls.

Is this not as egregious an affront as anything to knowingly maintain an inaccurate voter registration list for even one year (with knowledge of its inaccuracy) let alone close to if not more than a dozen?

The amount of years current commissioners have surely had this VIP status-report and Fayette Grand Jury report available, and noting the incomplete 2000 purge wherein more information had to have been supplied to subsequent Registration Commissions:

Commissioner Vincent Vicites = 10 years (sworn into office since Jan. 1994 and in office during 1999 Fayette Voter Fraud Grand Jury)

Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink = 6 years (sworn into office since Jan. 2004)

Chairman and Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky = 1 year and 5 months (oath of office Jan. 08 but was informed of particulars prior)

the Registration Commission members must follow the same procedure - stringent procedure - to actually remove a name from the voter rolls should there be a finding of potential ineligibility of a name. It's the same procedure that is followed when they delegate the nitty-gritty process to the county Election Bureau.

The current board of commissioners has heard our plea for a thorough and an adequate review of the county voter rolls in time for the 2008 Presidential Primary Election and General Election. They've heard from us since.

Our effort stands as one insisting one or more of the members of the Registration Commission determine the legalities of causing a review of the county voter registry, (by members of the Registration Commission), and act on any warranted removals, before November's 2009 Municipal General Election.

For more information and details visit our companion site Vote Fix, started back in 2000-2001. We provide links to county records such as the VIP Report and Fayette Grand Jury official report of its findings.

Also see the Guest Column in the Daily Courier for April 11, 2009 wherein writer Brian K. Lutes lays out exactly what could, and should, be done.

Net the Truth Online

Commissioners' Meeting May 22, 2008

Delinda Young commented that she feels there is an emergency in this County which is the need to do a purge of voter records & to use a portion of the surplus & that the Capital Projects should not be for Court House repairs.

Commissioner Zapotosky assured Delinda Young that the purge was in progress.

Commissioners Zimmerlink informed Mrs. Young that Capital projects are not just Courthouse repairs and that the funds may be available in the Hava Grant for the purge.

Net the Truth Online

Brennan Center takes credit for purge delay

In detail – Reports emerged in June that the Elections Bureau of Fayette County was moving forward with a purge of inactive voters that did not appear compliant with NVRA standards. According to news sources, the plan would have removed from the rolls any inactive voter who failed to respond to a confirmation-of-address mailing and who subsequently did not vote in November's election. The NVRA, by contrast, is explicit in prohibiting the purge of voters for their mere failure to vote. It does, however, specify measures by which a state can remove from the rolls voters suspected of having changed address: voters can be removed from the rolls only after they've failed both to respond to the appropriate notice (regarding change of address) and to vote in two or more consecutive federal elections thereafter.

Fayette postpones purging

More than 200,000 state voters purged
Buzz up!By Mike Wereschagin, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More than 200,000 people have been removed from Pennsylvania's voter rolls since the presidential election in November — 53,000 of them in Allegheny County.

The reduction is part of a regular purge of registrations for people who haven't voted in at least five years, or the last two presidential elections. The purge helped registered Republicans narrow Democrats' 1.2-million voter registration advantage by 30,000 voters.

In all, about 8.6 million people remained registered to vote in Pennsylvania as of Thursday, the last day for which statewide statistics are available. Large registration declines are common in years after major elections, said Pennsylvania Department of State spokesman Charlie Young. From November 2006 to the following May, officials purged 75,000 voters from the rolls, and 300,000 during the same period in 2004.

Monday was the deadline to register for the May 19 primary. With few races drawing much interest, however, the number of registrations slowed to a trickle of about 50 per day, said Mark Wolosik, manager of the Allegheny County Elections Division.

"There isn't the level of interest in this primary as there was last year," when Pennsylvania became the focal point in the marathon Democratic presidential primary race between then-senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Wolosik said.

The only statewide offices on the ballot this year are judicial races, making the Pittsburgh mayor's contest the highest-profile contest on the May ballot.

Fayette lacks funds to cull registration roll
Buzz up!By Chris Foreman, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, May 13, 2007


The Herald Standard - July 22, 2008, By Amy Zalar

...The commissioners also will act today on proposals to enact a voter purge as well as initiate a pay study for all non-union county employees.

Last month, all three commissioners voted to support a voter purge. Zimmerlink said in May 2006 the county mailed out 21,142 letters to registered voters, informing them of the new voting system, which led to removing more than 1,000 names.

Zimmerlink said the open issue is how to fund the purge.

Vicites said the purge should be completed before the November election, adding that he initially pushed to have it placed on the agenda.

"We need to move forward. We have identified funding," Vicites said. "The voter purge is the top priority in the election bureau in my opinion."

Zapotosky said money from the sale of some of the county's electronic voting machines could be used to pay for the purge. He said the only outstanding issue is to ensure the county follows federal requirements regarding when the purge can be done... t_id=480247&rfi=6

Purge of inactive Fayette voters delayed
By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard

August 09, 2008

A purge of about 25,000 Fayette County voters who have failed to show up at the polls in five years has been delayed until after the November election...

...But as [Laurie Lint, director of the Fayette County Election Bureau] began to evaluate the process - which included the need for additional supplies, printing letters, folding them and stuffing them - Lint said she realized she would need additional time to make sure everything was done correctly.

"We were afraid it wasn't going to get done right, and I didn't want to push it through fast. We wanted to do it 100 percent right," Lint said.

Commissioner Vincent A. Vicites said he also was disappointed that the purge was put off. At a May commissioners' meeting, Vicites said he pushed for, and the three agreed, to direct Lint to bring a plan for purging the rolls to the June 26 meeting.

Lint did not do that, he said, noting that she waited until the July 24 meeting to address the purge. Had Lint brought the plan forward in June, Vicites said she would have weeks instead of days to complete the task.

"I specifically put this on the agenda right after the April 22 election to make sure it got done," Vicites said. "It didn't, and I'm not happy about it."

County begins purging voter rolls
Posted: 02/27/2009
Friday, February 27, 2009

Fayette County on Thursday initiated a long-awaited purge of its voter-registration rolls.

Laurie Lint, election bureau director, said her department began mailing out notices to some 9,000 inactive voters yesterday. The figure represents nearly 10 percent of the county's 91,382 registered voters.

County commissioners last summer discussed conducting the purge, but it was delayed until after the November election because of time constraints. Vince Zapotosky, chairman of the board of commissioners, attributed more recent delays to technical problems with the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, or SURE.

Operated by the state, SURE notifies the state's 67 election bureaus when voters die, move or register in another county. Zapotosky said the county worked with the State Department to resolve problems with the system, allowing Fayette to move forward with purging its voter-registration rolls.

Lint said the 9,000 voters who will receive letters have had no election-related activity in five years. Such activity includes voting or making changes to addresses or party registration.

Individuals who receive the letters will be asked to contact the election bureau. If they do not, and then fail to vote in the next two federal elections, their registrations will be purged.

That means affected voters who fail to respond to the notices in time for this year's spring primary will still be permitted to vote, Lint said.

In the past, Fayette purged its voter rolls every two years. Lint said that stopped in 1995, when new rules were introduced with the passage of the Motor Voter Law.

Zapotosky said purging the voter rolls will give voters and candidates an accurate understanding of issues such as party dominance.

Of the county's current 91,382 registered voters, Lint said 62,880 are Democrats and 21,929 are Republicans. The balance, or 6,573, are independents.;jsessionid=E25A191343C39C3633E26CE82CC61743?contentguid=c4vVaaEV&storycount=409&detailindex=5&full=true

Related opinion published in Daily Courier (we disagree with the headline as the writer obviously states a need for a purge of ineligibles, but not utilizing strictly the postal methodology)

The problem with purging voters
By Brian K. Lutes Saturday, April 11, 2009

I am writing to address the voter-registration purge that apparently will be conducted via the U.S. Postal Service by the Fayette County commissioners.

The only effective way to purge the voter rolls is to conduct a door-to-door canvass of all registered voters in the county. This would consist of sending inspectors of registration out across the county and actually knocking on doors to verify that a registered voter actually lives at a given address and that the address given in the registration information is actually a residence.

Any registered voter found to not live at the address listed in the registration information on file would be challenged and given a chance at a hearing to prove that he is entitled to be registered to vote.

There has also been discussion, in news articles about the purge, of the voter rolls containing the names of dead people. This should not be, and if it is, someone is deliberately breaking the law.

Every month the state Department of Health sends out a list of citizens who have died to all county election offices. The election offices are required to cross-reference the list of deceased people with the voter registration rolls and remove any registered voters who have died.

This is how the voter registration process is supposed to work: A person who wishes to vote must fill out a voter registration card and deliver it to the Election Bureau. The registration card must contain the person's address and signature indicating the person is legally qualified to be registered to vote. At this point the person is not registered to vote; he has only applied to be registered to vote.

Once the Election Bureau receives the application, it is supposed to be given to an inspector of registration, who is then supposed to verify the information that has been provided. The inspector has 10 days to verify the applicant's address, that the applicant is not listed as deceased, that the applicant has been a resident of the election district in which the address listed is located for the requisite amount of time, that the applicant is a legal citizen, etc.

If the inspector determines that the applicant meets the legal requirements to be a registered voter, the election bureau registers the applicant. But if the Inspector determines the applicant does not meet any of the legal requirements, he is to file a "challenge" to the registration of the applicant with the registration commission (county commissioners) and the applicant is notified that his application to be registered is being challenged. He has a right to appear at a hearing before the commission to answer the challenge.

Despite language that dictates that the registration commission shall employ inspectors of registration, the Fayette County commissioners do not employ them. This means that when a person applies to be registered to vote in Fayette, no one is checking the information presented in the application; they are simply registering the applicants based on the information given to them in the application and sending out the registration cards.

We must have inspectors of registration as required by law.

I'm sure there are many retired police officers who would he willing to give their time to act as inspectors of registration. Or, perhaps, the political science departments at the California University of Pennsylvania and Penn State Fayette could provide students to carry out the work of inspectors of registration for extra credit.

Without inspectors verifying the information on the registration applications, any "voter purge" conducted by mail is totally worthless.


VIP gave an award to ChoicePoint for its Florida work, praising its "innovative excellence [in] cleansing" the state's voter rolls. VIP is promoting the firm's proprietary methods to purge voter rolls nationwide, and has partnered with Database Technologies, a subsidiary of ChoicePoint, to identify small communities that need pro-bono voter roll "scrubbing."

This year, VIP launched a pilot voter registration clean-up program, focused on Fayette County, Pa., and Atlantic Beach, N.C. In Fayette County, Democrats outnumber registered Republicans better than 3-1, according to data from the Pennsylvania department of state. In Atlantic, Democrats hold a 58-42 percent registration advantage over Republicans, according to the state department of elections.

VIP says Fayette was chosen because it was home to an absentee ballot fraud scheme that resulted in three election fraud convictions earlier this year, according to its Web site.

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