Why Voter Purging Matters in Swing States

In states such as Kansas, elections for the state legislature can be decided by as little as 9 votes, which makes maintenance of voter rolls a vitally important part of the democratic process. Sometimes, these rolls are purged to account for voters who have died or moved out of state, among other reasons. Voter rolls can also be purged as a means of voter disenfranchisement, and affect much more than state-level elections.

For example, Florida recently purged 85,000 voters in a state where Trump only won by 113,000 votes in 2016. While many of the voters who were purged from the rolls may have been purged due to routine maintenance, state purges like Florida’s can have a profound effect on the turnout of larger events like federal elections, because unlawful purges or ones done in error can shrink the margin of victory and lead to contested elections.

While the process of voter purging is a necessary one, the problems it brings up in swing states are concerning, especially if it is the case that voter purges are being used to target certain demographics or political ideologies.

Even more critically, one political party in particular has experienced more instances of voter purging in some states. Voter purging is a non-partisan issue, as all ideologies maintain the right to vote, and when done correctly, voter purging is a natural part of the democratic process. Nonetheless, the fact that one group is being purged more thoroughly leads to questions about voter disenfranchisement. This means that voter purging is especially relevant in swing states, where excess purging of the voter rolls can earn a more definitive win.

Interested in learning more about voter purging? Check out this comprehensive list of voter data and purging here.

Rightwing group nearly forced Wisconsin to purge thousands of eligible voters

New state data shows removal of almost 17,000 eligible voters ahead of 2020 election could have been disastrous

From The Guardian:

well-connected conservative group in Wisconsin nearly succeeded in forcing the state to kick nearly 17,000 eligible voters off its rolls ahead of the 2020 election, new state data reveals.

The group, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (Will), caused a national uproar in late 2019 when it successfully convinced a county judge to order the state to immediately remove more than 232,000 people Wisconsin suspected of moving homes from the state’s voter rolls. The state, relying on government records, had sent a postcard to all of those voters asking them to confirm their address, and Will sought to remove anyone who had not responded within 30 days.

Democrats on the commission refused to comply with the order, believing that they didn’t have the authority to immediately remove the voters and that the underlying data wasn’t reliable, and wanted to give voters until April 2021 to confirm their address before they removed them. Appeals courts intervened and blocked the removals; the case is currently pending before the Wisconsin supreme court. There were still more than 71,000 voters still on the list at the end of January who did not respond to the mailer (152,524 people on the list updated their registration at a new address).

But new data from the Wisconsin Elections Commission shows how disastrous such a purge could have been. And the dispute underscores the way fights over how states remove people from their voter rolls – often called purging – has become a critical part of protecting voting rights in America.

Across the country, Republicans and conservative groups have pushed for aggressive purging, saying it helps prevent fraud. Democrats and voting rights groups say the process can be done haphazardly, leaving eligible voters, particularly minority groups and students, at risk of being wrongly purged.

Read the full story here.