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Sunday, May 19, 2024 | Back issues
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Dems Say Virginia Is Purging Eligible Voters

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - A Republican-created voter crosscheck program will stop thousands of legally registered Virginia voters from participating in the November election, Democrats claim in court.

The Democratic Party of Virginia sued the Virginia State Board of Elections, Gov. Robert McDonnell and Kenneth Cuccinelli, the commonwealth's attorney general and candidate to take McDonnell's seat in November, and other officials in Federal Court for violating the 14th Amendment rights of registered voters.

"The SBE [State Board of Elections] has identified approximately 57,000 registered Virginia voters for potential removal from voter registration lists and has instructed county and city registrars, functioning as the SBE's agents across the state, to 'use their best judgment' in deciding whether to purge these voters and prevent them from participating in the November election," the complaint states.

Democrats claim Virginia is using the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program (IVCP), the brainchild of Kansas Republican Kris Kobach, to crosscheck voters registered in multiple states and boot them from the list of eligible voters in Virginia.

"The states that have joined the ICVP are overwhelmingly controlled by the Republican Party; of the 26 states that have joined, 21 have Republican legislatures and/or Republican governors," Democrats say.

The complaint adds: "Kobach is a strong advocate of election administration practices that are purportedly designed to prevent voting fraud but that have the effect of suppressing voter turn-out among the poor, the elderly, and minorities - many of whom vote Democratic. These practices include, for example, (1) a photo identification ('ID') requirement; (2) signature verification and driver's license number requirement for absentee voters; and (3) proof of citizenship requirements for new voters."

But the crosschecking system is flawed, Democrats say. They claim that the SBE used the system to identify 57,000 registered Virginia voters who supposedly are registered to vote in another state, but then delegated to local registrars to use their "best judgment" in determining who to kick off the list.

"Under this directive, even if a registrar determines that a voter was wrongfully included on the SBE's list, the registrar is not required to refrain from purging the voter but instead can decide whether it 'wish[es] to hold off on cancellation,'" the complaint states.

The only criteria that the SBE gave was to use "best judgment," meaning "the ability of thousands of registered Virginia voters to participate in the upcoming elections thus depends on the subjective 'best judgment' of hundreds of different local election officials throughout the state," the suit continues.

"The lack of standards might not be problematic if the SBE's list of 57,000 voters and related county and city lists were accurate and included only voters who are actually registered and voting in other states," Democrats add. "But, contrary to the SBE's representation of 'extreme accuracy,' the lists are riddled with errors and thousands of qualified Virginia voters. Local election officials in counties throughout the state have indentified countless errors in the SBE's list of 57,000."

Of the 7,934 voters in Fairfax County identified for potential purging by the SBE, more than 700 are legally registered, and the numbers are similar in Arlington, Bedford, Chesterfield and Loudoun Counties, as well as the cities of Chesapeake and Bristol, Democrats say.

Claiming that the planned voter purge violates the 14th Amendment's due process clause, the party wants an injunction restoring legally registered voters onto the SBE's list of eligible voters.

It is represented by John Roche of Perkins Coie in Washington.

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