Should Pennsylvania Prepare for a ‘Voter Purge’? [UPDATED]
With all the accusations of voters’ rights being trampled on in Pennsylvania lately, it’s hard to imagine another obstacle in the way of letting people vote. But as seen in Florida over the last few weeks, additional steps to remove voters from rolls by forcing citizens to prove citizenship to the government—an act referred to as a voter purge by the left—has become an issue. Now a Tea Party group may be attempting to file lawsuits to force more voter purges in additional states—including Pennsylvania.
As Think Progress notes, citing a Miami Herald story, True The Vote, an arm of the “King Street Patriots,” has filed a lawsuit against Indiana with the allegation that that state has a “poor list maintenance” of voters:
This suit kicks off a series of state-focused attempts by True the Vote, serving as a co-plaintiff with the conservative “watchdog” group Judicial Watch, to limit voter turnout this election season. Voter purges may be presented under the guise of fairer elections, but the idea of “cleaning” a list usually results in legal voters — overwhelmingly voters of color — being kicked off the rolls.
True the Vote’s agenda is clearly political, as can be evidenced from their website that lists Wisconsin’s recall election as a ‘victory’ (despite day-of claims of voter fraud) and Florida as an upcoming target. Other states on the list for lawsuits include more than half are swing states in play this election season.
Right wing group Judicial Watch notes voter rolls in Iowa, Mississippi, California, Virginia, Pennsylvania and other states “appear to contain the names of individuals who are ineligible to vote.”
According to Section 8 of the NVRA, states are required to make a “reasonable effort” to clean up voter registration rolls. While many have argued Florida’s recent effort to clean up registration is just that – reasonable – there have been problems, which is why the Department of Justice has threatened to sue the state. That state found information which they claim identified more than 100,000 non-eligible voters were registered to vote, using information from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
Florida has found “almost 100 individuals” registered to vote who weren’t U.S. citizens, Governor Rick Scott told CNN—and “over 50 of them have voted in our elections.” The state is also suing the Department of Homeland Security for access to a citizenship database.
However, many U.S. citizens in Florida have been forced to prove their citizenship.
Pennsylvania is currently involved in a battle over its Voter ID law, which was voted upon and passed in March. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of several voters who may not be able to obtain ID according to the law’s specifics. It’s so far unclear if a ‘voter purge’ could come to Pennsylvania, especially with the state government tied down to several other orders of business right now.
Both Pennsylvania and Florida are considered swing states, and both brought new Republican gubernatorial leadership into office in 2010. Florida has a Voter ID bill on the books, as well.
I have several emails out to various groups about this matter coming to Pennsylvania. Will update when/if I hear back.
UPDATE: Jill Farrell at Judicial Watch responds only saying that they are “considering other lawsuits”–though writes nothing specific about Pennsylvania. She also says Judicial Watch rejects the idea that people of color are being purged from the voting rolls, from the Think Progress blog, as “a factually inaccurate smear.”