The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Local registrars have purged voting rolls
Voter registrars in the Fredericksburg area say they’re confident they did everything possible to identify voters who have moved away before purging those voters off the election rolls.
The state is being sued by the Democratic Party of Virginia for an effort to remove thousands of voters from the state’s rolls.
The state Board of Elections said it has removed almost 39,000 names from the voter rolls because those voters have registered elsewhere, after a computer database check revealed names of people registered in Virginia as well as in other states. Virginia is participating in a multi-state program intended to make sure names on the voter rolls are valid.
Democrats say the process has been rushed and likely resulted in valid voters being purged, charging that the lists provided by the SBE to local registrars have errors. They also say there’s a whiff of politics in the purging of voter rolls so close to the November elections, especially given the involvement of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who’s on that November ballot in the governor’s race.
Local registrars say they checked every name carefully before taking any off the counties’ voter lists.
“I did everything I could to try to track these people down. And some of them were registered in three states,” said Louisa County Registrar Christy Watkins. “So, some due diligence needed to be done on it. I viewed it more as a cleanup project.”
Watkins said the state board gave her a list of about 120 names to check. She made a spreadsheet, pulled all 120 voter cards, and checked their voting history.
Watkins found 104 who still seemed to be registered in other states, and sent them all letters. She did Internet searches on some. She wound up taking 104 of them off the voter rolls.
In Stafford, Registrar Greg Riddlemoser submitted a description of his process that the lawyers for the SBE filed as part of their court documents this week.
In that document, Riddlemoser said the Crosscheck program being used by the SBE, as well as other programs, are “welcome tools that the general registrar community has been long requesting to meet the federal and state legal requirements to maintain accurate voter registration rolls.”
He wrote that Stafford has a particularly transient population, “due to high proportions of military and government employees subject to frequent relocation. Stafford also serves as a bedroom community to the greater Washington, D.C., area and the constant churn of jobs and job-seekers makes for further transience.”
Riddlemoser said that registrars can’t track voters who move—voters are supposed to notify registrars when they leave the area, but “very few people do this.”
“Any process that affords general registrars the opportunity to more accurately express their actual registration counts are critical to complying with our duties as required by the Code of Virginia,” he said.
Riddlemoser said he received data from the SBE in August and finished cross-checking it by mid-September. In all, he reviewed records from 953 voters registered in Stafford, and determined that 829 “were clearly records that should be canceled.”
“I carefully researched each individual’s record highlighted by the Crosscheck data and only canceled records in situations where all available data made clear that the individual was no longer eligible to be registered to vote in Virginia,” Riddlemoser wrote. “I mailed first-class letters to both the Virginia and out-of-state addresses to all individuals whose records I canceled. This notification contained instructions to contact my office in the event they believed they were canceled in error. To date, I have been contacted by zero canceled voters through either mail or by telephone notifying me that they believed I canceled them in error.”
Spotsylvania County Registrar Kellie Acors also said she researched all of the approximately 150 names she took off her voter list. She said she removed only those she was sure about, due to the litigation.
Caroline County Registrar Danette Moen said her list had about 165 names of voters who’d been matched to voters in other states. Of those, she removed all but 23, after sending out letters to all the available addresses—both in Virginia and in the other state—that she had for them.
Moen said people assume that if they register in a new state, that the state they’re moving from is notified. But, she said, that isn’t always the case.
King George County Registrar Lorrie Gump had a list of 155 voters to check, and ended up removing all but about 38 of them. She, too, sent letters to their old addresses and their new ones.
The next hearing in the court case is scheduled for Friday morning in Alexandria.
Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028