Voter Roll Purge Ensues

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According to a report from the Brennan Center For Justice, nine states are increasingly removing voters from the rolls than the rest of the 41 states in America.

After conducting a review of national voter roll purges between 2012 and 2016, the Brennan Center For Justice discovered “that the mostly Southern jurisdictions that had once been required to get changes to voting policies pre-approved by the Justice Department had higher rates of purging than jurisdictions that were not previously subject to pre-clearance.”

In 2013, a pertinent section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was removed by the Supreme Court, allowing states to make voting changes without first seeking federal approval. The section was initially included to protect minority voters.

The Brennan Center For Justice reports that “Two million fewer voters would have been purged over those four years if jurisdictions previously subject to federal pre-clearance had purged at the same rate.”

Jonathan Brater, one of the authors of the report and a lawyer for the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program, claims, “There’s cause for concern when the purge rate goes up this much at the same time we’re seeing controversial, sometimes illegal voter purge practice, in addition to changes to other voting laws that make it more difficult to participate.”

For instance, all but three counties in Georgia saw an increase in voter roll purges after the Supreme Court struck down a key aspect of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Since then, multiple advocacy groups have sued the state for its voter purges and for making voter registration increasingly more difficult.

While voter purges are a normal occurrence, recent purges in select states and nationwide have been very aggressive and can cause the disenfranchisement of eligible voters. Voters who are purged will only become aware of their new status when they go to the polls to vote, at which point they will not long be able to.

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According to Brater, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice “has abdicated its responsibility to protect against bad voter purges. They’ve actually been encouraging jurisdictions to purge more aggressively.”

NBC News also reported that the Supreme Court recently approved the state of Ohio’s method or strategy for purging voter rolls in a 5-4 ruling. While the Obama administration had previously sided with voting rights advocates, who were fighting to protect the rights of minority voters and shield them from disenfranchisement, the Trump administration has chosen to support the state’s new policy.