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Virginia Voter Roll Purges Attract Scrutiny

Are the voter rolls in Virginia full of former voters who have moved or died?  Or as some argue, perhaps the problem is that election officials are becoming too aggressive in purging the rolls.

In the last presidential election cycle, almost half a million more people in Virginia were purged from the voter rolls than the previous election cycle. That change comes even as election officials used a faulty database to delete voters who allegedly moved. Jonathan Brater at the Brennan Center for Justice says Virginia is one of four states that has conducted illegal purges.

“In recent years, we have seen Virginia attempting to remove higher numbers of suspected non-citizens from the voter rolls. But it turns out that many of those people actually are citizens."

The increase in purges comes in the wake of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that gave Virginia more flexibility to change its voting procedures without getting permission from the Department of Justice. Rich Kelsey says the court’s ruling says states can purge voters who do not vote and fail to respond to requests to confirm their address.

“The right to vote also comes with the mandate to protect those who have the right to vote to make sure that people are voting in the right place and that they’re properly registered. And that they are, in fact, eligible to vote.”

The Brennan Center warns that the dramatic increase in voter purges after the Supreme Court decision could silence millions of voices at the polls this November.

Click here to read the complete report from the Brennan Center for Justice

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.
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