Nathan Stubbs

Democrats question voter purge

by Nathan Stubbs

Democrats are crying foul over the recent cancellation of some 25,000 voters by parish registrars of voters that extended beyond a federal deadline. The state Democratic Party says the list of recently cancelled voters has about three times more Democrats and Independents than Republicans, with the ratio being as high as 25-to-1 in some parishes. At a state legislative hearing yesterday before the Committee on House and Governmental Affairs, Republican Secretary of State Jay Dardenne defended the voter cancellations and has asserted that the federal deadline, which prohibits voter cancellations within 90 days of a federal election, only applies to systematic voter purges of inactive voters. He says the local registrars were conducting routine maintenance of their rolls, removing many voters who have died, moved, been convicted of a felony or been declared unfit to vote for mental health reasons. He also says the state’s “21-day challenge” law directs local registrars to challenge any voter registration which may have incorrect information on it. The registrar sends a notice to the voter who then has 21 days to show they are in compliance before being removed from the rolls. Democratic state Party spokesman Scott Jordan says that in order to guard against election day voter disenfranchisement, the Party is working to ensure that enough provisional ballots are on-hand at each polling location. He also says Democrats are likely to continue working on the issue post-election to ensure that voter purges are being conducted properly.

Yesterday’s hearing, and much of the discussion on the issue, was prompted by an Oct. 9 New York Times article headlined, “States Actions to Block Voters Appear Illegal.” The article mentions Louisiana’s voter and alleges “Louisiana appears to have removed thousands of voters after the federal deadline for taking such action.” The story goes on to note that, when asked about the recent voter cancellations, a spokesman for Dardenne said approximately 11,000 Louisiana voters were taken off the rolls by local officials for reasons that were not clear. Read more about the issue in the article “Dardenne takes on The Grey Lady” in this week’s Independent.