December 19, 2014

In Texas, 300,000 Eligible Voters Targeted in Purge

 

 

By Guest Blogger on Jun 4, 2012 at 11:59 am

Florida voters are not the only ones who should be worried about whether their state has erroneously purged them from the list of eligible voters; the state of Texas also has a voter purge policy that erroneously targets eligible voters. The Houston Chronicle reports that, in a two year period, 300,000 eligible voters were warned that they may be removed from Texas voter rolls. Texas voter registration rates are already among the lowest in the nation, and one out of every 10 Texas voters’ registration is currently suspended. The almost 1.5 million voters who are suspended could be purged if they fail to vote in two consecutive general elections.

Texas has responded to state and federal laws that require voter rolls be reviewed to remove duplicates and ineligible voters by creating an error riddled process:

[A]cross Texas, such “removals” rely on outdated computer programs, faulty procedures and voter responses to generic form letters, often resulting in the wrong people being sent cancellation notices, including new homeowners, college students, Texans who work abroad and folks with common names, a Chronicle review of cancellations shows….

[E]ach year thousands of voters receive requests to verify voter information or be cancelled because they share the same name as a voter who died, got convicted of a crime or claimed to be a non-citizen to avoid jury duty. Those voters receive form letters generated by workers in county election offices that “therefore may be more subject to error,” said Rich Parsons, a spokesman for the Secretary of State in emailed responses to the newspaper. Voters who fail to respond to form letters – or never receive them – get dropped.

In the two years between November 2008 and November 2010, over 300,000 valid voters were warned that they may be removed from Texas voter rolls. Eligible voters were threatened with removal most often because they failed to respond to generic form letters or because they were mistaken for someone else, which is even more worrisome given that there is a high incidence of voters sharing a name in Texas, particularly among Hispanics. Across Texas, 21% of voters who received purge letters later proved that they were eligible to vote.

–Alex Brown