Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Purging

Here's something that'll shake-ya up a bit.

Software engineer Bo Lipari, founder of New Yorkers for Verified Voting and an adviser to the NYS Board of Elections, wrote in one of his recent blog posts about the 2002 Help American Vote Act.

That piece of legislation not only deals with voting equipment, but requires "substantial changes to the way voter registration lists are managed, requiring that all states maintain a single statewide database, and that voter registration records by purged of incorrect records."

In response to a question from one of his readers, Lipari FOILed the state's voter registration database then designed some software to analyze the 12,010,045 voter records they sent him
(details here).

We may be living in a very blue state here in New York, but it seems a whole bunch of would-be voters will turning rage red when they won't get a chance to vote this time round. That's because, according to Lipari:
Depending on how database name matching is done, this can result in many legally registered voters being removed from the rolls or set to “Inactive” status, which means on Election Day their names will not be in the poll book, and they will not be able to vote.
Just how many New Yorkers will not be able to vote?

The Board has apparently moved 1,661,244 of these voter records off the "Active" lists and into "Purged" and "Inactive" ones. That's a 14% chunk of our fellow citizens who won't be pulling any levers down any time soon.

Lipari says he can't judge the validity of these changes, but he's wagering that a "significant number" of them are not. One of the patterns he's noticed is that here in NYC, the Board of Elections has made more than half a million people "Inactive" because they did not "
respond to a letter from the Board saying they intended to cancel their registration (NYSVOTER lists this reason as MAIL CHECK)." Lipari guarantees that "some percentage, likely very large, of these New York City voters are legally registered who never saw the Board’s letter. They’re going to show up on Election Day and be turned away from the polls."

The six counties that have done the most purging include our very own Westchester, rolling in at a very scary 21%.

Lipari says there's only one way to know for sure what's going on with your voter status:
Call your County Board of Elections and ask if you are registered to vote, if your status is “Active”, and if your name will appear in the poll books on Election Day. If it is not, there is still time, although not much, to correct the error.
To help you through this mess without schlepping over to the Board, you can start with the links over at his post: "Are you registered to vote? Really?" At least check out the Voter Registration Page, and see whether the state believes you are alive and legitimate (LOL).



PS:  If you want jump in on this, the ACLU wants you to as well. They've just sent around the email below, which contains a link to their letter of protest. You can sign onto it, if you want to. 
We are on the eve of one of the most historic elections of our time. And the last thing America needs right now is another election that leaves us uncertain of its legitimacy.

Unfortunately, there are enough shenanigans going on to raise serious concerns.

The biggest of them all:  Attorney Gen. Mukasey and the Dept. of Justice are walking away from their sacred responsibility to guarantee smooth and fair elections.

While the government is engaged in a highly-publicized attempt to raise the specter of voter fraud against groups who have been working hard to register poor and minority voters, DOJ is doing little — if anything — to deal with the problem — hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of registered voters who many turn up on Election Day just to be turned away.

I just asked the DOJ to take decisive action before Election Day to protect the right to vote for everyone. You can do the same here:

Election officials should concentrate their limit resources on expanding access to the ballot box and protecting voters. Demand that the DOJ act to protect voting rights.

http://action.aclu.org/protectthevote


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