Georgia struck almost 100,000 voters from its rolls. In Wisconsin, a state with only 3.3 million registered voters, perhaps 200,000 are set to be purged. Some of them might have moved out of their respective states or died.
But many will unjustifiably fall victim to Republicans’ relentless drive to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters on the pretext of preventing voter fraud.
A recent Georgia state law calls for people who have not voted or contacted election officials for several years to be removed from the rolls. Voting advocates argue that those 100,000 should get the benefit of the lengthened five-year period. State officials disagree and want to continue with their purge. A federal judge ruled Friday that the state may proceed.
The legal wrangling should not disguise the bigger point: Georgia’s underlying law is wrong.
The disenfranchisement in Wisconsin is even worse. A Wisconsin judge ruled this month that 200,000 voters must be struck because they failed to respond within 30 days to notices sent from the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which asked whether the voters had moved. These letters did not mention that voters who failed to respond would be purged, because the commission had not planned to remove them from the rolls, at least not anytime soon.
The records on which the commission relied to target these 200,000 people were imperfect. Despite the tight turnaround period, 2,300 said they still live at the same address - in a state in which a margin of 23,000 swung its electoral votes to Donald Trump in 2016. Thousands more no doubt failed to respond because the commission’s notice got lost in the shuffle of their daily lives.
It should not be up to Americans, on penalty of disenfranchisement, to help state governments with their record-keeping. Officials should strive to make voting easier, not harder.
-The Washington Post