Voter registration lists, also called voter rolls, are the gateway to voting. A citizen typically cannot cast a vote that will count unless her name appears on the voter registration rolls. Yet state and local officials regularly remove—or “purge”—citizens from voter rolls. In fact, thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia reported purging more than 13 million voters from registration rolls between 2004 and 2006. Purges, if done properly, are an important way to ensure that voter rolls are dependable, accurate, and up-to-date. Precise and carefully conducted purges can remove duplicate names, and people who have moved, died, or are otherwise ineligible.
Far too frequently, however, eligible, registered citizens show up to vote and discover their names have been removed from the voter lists. States maintain voter rolls in an inconsistent and unaccountable manner. Officials strike voters from the rolls through a process that is shrouded in secrecy, prone to error, and vulnerable to manipulation.
In Brooklyn alone, over 125,000 names were quietly scrubbed from the voter rolls in the five months leading up to the primary.
To put it in prospective, the number of voters purged equals about half of the number who got to vote. Scott Stringer, the New York City Comptroller will now audit the Elections Board--now that the election is over. Hey thanks, Scott.
Am I saying the machine "fixed" the election for Hillary Clinton? Without further investigation, it would be irresponsible for me to pronounce judgment. Some of the purged may have moved, some may have died. But those who waited in line only to fill out affidavit ballots are unlikely to be deceased.
But whether party hacks shoplifted New York or not, that's small potatoes. Scrubbing voter rolls is not a "New York value." It's a nationwide epidemic, a disease eating away at the heart of our democracy.
Voting officials learned a lesson from Katherine Harris the Florida Secretary of State who purged Black voters in 2000. They learned how to repeat the purge, expand it and carefully hide it.