Voter purges and voter I.D. laws have been a plague on America recently, as they damage the democratic system and come from right-wing, partisan sources intended to suppress the liberal vote. Despite facts that voter fraud is relatively nonexistent (take Florida, for example–months of searching among tens of thousands of voters turned up one case), these laws continue to be enacted. In Texas, the Secretary of State determined that 77,000 voters were “presumably dead” and moved to purge them from the voter rolls.
Those voters, though, have been having the gall to turn up claiming to be alive and well. Four plaintiffs filed a lawsuit a few days ago that caused a state judge to temporarily halt the purging process while more information is gathered. There is another hearing in a couple of weeks.
According to Businessweek,
The voters’ Lawyers say that under the federal Voting Rights Act the state must get pre-approval for the rule changes. The law mandates that jurisdictions with a history of rights violations first get clearance for new election procedures from the U.S. Justice Department or a three-judge panel.
“There is no statutory authority for this purge,” David Richards, a civil rights lawyer who represents the plaintiffs, said in a phone interview while waiting for the judge to rule.
Sulak, a Democrat, based his ruling only on possible violations of the election code. He said he would set another hearing in two weeks. The court will expire in 14 days, “unless otherwise extended,” he said.
In fact, one county registrar refused to comply with the mandated purge on similar grounds:
[Don Sumners of Harris County] refused to comply with instructions to delete thousands of names, based on his belief that the Social Security database is unreliable and/or that other mistakes were made.
He apparently believed this because, after getting notices informing them that they would not be allowed to vote, hundreds of the presumably dead contacted him to complain.
You would think that at this point the state would have realized their methods were flawed and given up or taken a different approach. That isn’t what happened, though–it took the lawsuit.
Businessweek also reports on the partisanship of such practices, which are also being fought (or have been) in court in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee:
Support for voter purges often falls along party lines, said Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California’s Irvine School of Law.
Republicans are pursuing the purges of voter rolls because they “believe the biggest problem is voter fraud,” Hasen, the author of more than 80 articles on election law according to the school website, said in a phone interview. “They believe that not having dead people on the rolls will discourage fraud.”
“Democrats are resisting the move, because they see it as a way of removing people who aren’t regular voters from the rolls,” Hasen said. “These voters are more likely to be Democratic.”
Voter purge, as I stated, is undemocratic. Interestingly, Texas isn’t the only state that seems to be worried about the zombie vote this year.