Vice News talked with founder of the Ohio Voter Project and author of the Voter Purge Project’s data cleaning and analysis methodology Steve Tingley-Hock about our work to track wrongful data purges across the country.
“When I ran the initial queries, that was my first indication that there was a serious problem here,” Steve says of the initial Ohio records that showed about 40,000 voters were set to be wrongfully purged. Steve, along with the VPP, now collects and analyzes data for 16 states.
Watch the full video below, and read more about what we are doing with this data in our report.
Tweeting, Instagramming, protesting —all things that Millennials and Generation Z embrace. But what about voting?
According to the Ohio Voter Project, which analyzes election data, as of July 1, there are approximately 740,000 voters, ages 18-24 registered to vote in the state, compared to 3 million people age 50 and older.
Based on the most recent population data from the state of Ohio published in 2018, only about 70 percent of younger eligible voters are registered for the November election. For eligible voters 50 and older, that figure is nearly 90 percent.
Armed with [Steve Tingley-Hock’s], work, voter rights groups in a handful of states are trying to plug these holes in the voter registration system—before hundreds of thousands of voters are drained from the rolls ahead of the presidential election. It’s the story of database nerds, armed with a deep knowledge of SQL, trying to preserve democracy in America.
“One of the scandals here,” Rathke said, “is that some lists are exorbitantly expensive. In Alabama, it costs over $36,000 every time you pull a list. In Wisconsin, which has a huge issue around their purges, it’s $12,500.” So far, Rathke’s organization [Voter Purge Project] is working toward a regular vetting of voter rolls in 13 states. He is preparing to sue nine states, including Wisconsin, to obtain lower-cost access to their voter lists.
When Ohio released a list of people it planned to strike from its voting rolls, around 40,000 people shouldn’t have been on it. The state only found out because of volunteer sleuthing.
By Nicholas Casey Oct. 14, 2019 COLUMBUS, Ohio — The clock was ticking for Jen Miller. The state of Ohio had released names of 235,000 voters it planned to purge from voter rolls in September.
Ms. Miller, director of the League of Women Voters of Ohio, believed thousands of voters were about to be wrongly removed. Over the summer, the Ohio secretary of state had sent her organization and others like it a massive spreadsheet with the 235,000 names and addresses that would be purged from the state’s voter rolls in just a month — a list of people that, state officials said, some part of the bureaucracy flagged as deceased, living somewhere else or as a duplicate. The League of Women Voters had been asked to see if any of those purged qualified to register again.
Ms. Miller, who spends her work day helping register people to vote, scrolled through the names and then asked herself a question: What was her own voter status in the state?