Thursday, June 15, 2006

Democrats Oppose Efforts To Clean Up Voter Lists

While Democrats were quick to blame Secretary of State Todd Rokita's new statewide voter registration system (SVRS) for allowing his name to appear on the voter lists of two precincts in Marion Co. in the May primary election, Indiana Democrats are determined to block Rokita's efforts to purge such duplicative registrations from the voter lists.

The reason for the purge is very simple. SVRS has detected 290,522 potential duplicative voting records since it became operational earlier this year. Rokita has proposed mailing information to every registered voter in the state; any mailers which are returned would be flagged. If a second mailing to the registered voter is returned, then the voter would be placed on an "inactive status." A voter placed on "inactive status" would still be allowed to vote, but if they did not vote in the next 3 elections between now and 2008, their names would be removed from the voter list by the end of 2008.

Democrats say Rokita's plan will eliminate voters from the rolls unnecessarily. Mike Edmundson, executive director of the Democratic Party reports the AP citing a Ft. Wayne Journal-Gazette story, "There are plenty of people who don't vote in two elections and come out and vote in a third. He adds, "Your right to vote is your right to vote whenever you want or don't want. The state's business shouldn't be kicking people off of the voter rolls."

The GOP's reaction to the Democrat's opposition is predictable. "The Democrats are against any reforms that would make our elections more accurate and secure," said state GOP Chairman Murray Clark. "Whether it is the overwhelming popular photo ID law or mailing to clean up Indiana's voter list, the Democrat Party would rather play old-time politics than contribute to a solution."

AI has a middle ground solution which will at least save the state a lot of money. The Secretary of State should limit the mailing to only those registered voters who SVRS detects as being either duplicative or dead, which numbers about 320,000. It simply seems unnecessary to mail letters to 4.3 million registered voters at a cost of $1.5 million when the system on which you have already spent millions has already identified who should be flagged for "inactive status."

4 comments:

Steph Mineart said...

I was just about to propose the same solution you did.

Of course an "opt in" voting strategy is the wrong way to go. I shouldn't have to continually sign up to vote over and over again if my address is correct already.

Flag the problem addresses and get them corrected, and be done with it.

We work with complex data issues like this every day at my job; some of these solutions are no-brainers, and it's surprising goverment officials don't realize how stupid they look when they play politics with them. On both sides of the aisle.

Jen said...

Gary,

I like the middle ground solution, too, but I've been told that you have to apply whatever solution you choose uniformly to all voters, which I took to mean that you can't "identify" any specific voters for a mailing.

That's why we're proposing doing a statewide match of Department of Health, Bureau of Motor Vehicles, Social Security and Postal Service data before spending $1.5 million on a mailer.

I agree that there should be a middle ground. And we want to see the rolls cleaned up, too. But we want to see it done right.

Advance Indiana said...

I hadn't thought of the uniformity issue--thanks for bringing that to my attention Jen. It seems to me that it could survive a constitutional challenge. You're simply taking a hard look at voters whose names appear more than once in the system. As long as you are looking at all such voters and not just those of one party or from one geographic area, it should survive a constitutional challenge--maybe I'm wrong though.

Anonymous said...

What I don't get is why this is being done again. Two summers ago (2004) Rokita sent out postcards to people who they suspected were duplicates on the list. As a college student, I was registered at home and then never unregistered when I signed up to vote at school. A lot of my friends were the same way and we all got postcards at both the places we were registered saying that they thought we may be duplicates and please take a moment to correct the error of there was one. What did Todd do with all of these??