Thursday, November 11, 2010

Advancement Project Files Complaint Over Students Purged From Voter Rolls - UPDATED With Full Complaint

Just got some breaking news from Denise Lieberman, the Senior Attorney for a nonpartisan group of election protection advocates that was monitoring the elections. See my previous reporting on this issue here and here.

The press release:
(ST. LOUIS -- Nov. 11, 2010) – With a razor-thin margin of 176 votes separating the candidates in State Senate District 24, 198 provisional ballots remain to be counted and Advancement Project has discovered that many students may have been wrongfully turned away without being provided provisional ballots. If these allegations are substantiated and reveal an illegal purge that could affect the outcome of the election, voters or candidates could seek legal remedies including setting aside the election.

As election officials move to certify final election results next week, Advancement Project, a leading nonpartisan voter protection organization, is investigating apparent wrongful purges of student voters at Washington University’s campus, many of whom were inexplicably missing from the voter rolls on Election Day and were turned away without being offered a provisional ballot.

“We received reports that students who were duly registered and voted at the polling site on Washington University’s campus as recently as two years ago could not be found on the voter rolls at all, were turned away without being directed to their correct polling location and were expressly refused provisional ballots,” said Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney with Advancement Project who headed non-partisan Election Protection efforts in Missouri.

“Under the law, voters cannot be purged from the rolls unless they’ve died, been convicted of a crime, been adjudged incapacitated, notified the election board that they have moved outside the county, have asked to have their name removed from the voter registration roll, OR have not voted in two federal elections and have had mailing notices returned as undeliverable,” Lieberman said. “No student who registered and voted on campus in 2008 could be legally purged from the rolls unless they had affirmatively changed their registrations to a new jurisdiction or fell into one of the other categories.”

Under the law, voters who move within St. Louis County remain registered voters in the county. While they may be placed on the inactive list if mailings to an old address were returned, this does not prevent them from voting. Rather, the poll worker must direct them to the polling place serving their new address, where they should be allowed to cast a regular ballot upon completing a change of address form.

While some Washington University students who registered on campus in 2008 have moved since then, most have moved within St. Louis County, typically to Clayton or University City, and thus, should have been allowed to vote.

“These students should not have been dropped from the voter rolls,” Lieberman said. “At the least, if there were problems verifying their eligibility, they should have been given a provisional ballot. That way their votes could have been counted later when their eligibility was established.” But a poll supervisor for the campus polling site reports being told by election officials not to give students provisional ballots.

Moreover, where provisional ballots were used, too often, voters who moved were not directed to their new polling place and instead made to cast provisional ballots in the wrong location, which may not be counted because they were cast at the wrong polling place. Advancement Project accordingly has urged officials to count such ballots unless it was clear that the poll worker directed the voter to her correct location but the voter refused to go.
>Full complaint here:

St. Louis County Voter Purge Complaint -

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