Texas vs. California, voter roll maintenance

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Is Texas very different from California when it comes to the accuracy of voter rolls?

Routine maintenance of voter rolls is continually being challenged and stalled across the country, this is true in both California and Texas, a fact highlighted by recent forced maintenance in California and thwarted attempts to clean rolls in Texas.

Multiple outlets reported this week that California is beginning a long-delayed task of removing lapsed voters (mostly deceased voters) from its rolls.

As is the case elsewhere, California is being forced to action by costly and time-consuming litigation. When successful, lawsuits trigger voter roll clean up but even these victories are an exercise in delayed gratification. Since removal can take multiple cycles immediate trust in election participation and therefore outcomes is jeopardized.

California’s initiation of clean up efforts on its error-riddled list comes as news that there are more registered voters than citizens in several California counties. This is a problem not confined to the Golden State.

In 2012, Pew released a study that concluded 24 million voter registrations in the United States, approximately one in eight, are “no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.” The 2012 study found that over 1.8 million deceased individuals were registered and 2.7 million voters were registered in more than one state.

In the case of California, removal of deceased voters had to be litigated by Judicial Watch, a last resort maneuver. Too often political litigation is half-cocked, a blunt tool used to gain publicity. Outside of the expense of waging such legal battles, they have a cost that can’t be measured in dollars, the cost of the credibility of those fighting for election integrity who have overcome the label of quack, with fact.

In Texas, an attempt in 2012 by the then Secretary of State Hope Andrade to remove deceased voters from Texas voter rolls using the Social Security Administration’s death master file was chided as suppression by the left. The effort went forward after a lawsuit delayed activity.

Current laws in Texas regarding list maintenance, in their loosest interpretation, are too permissive with certain aspects of list administration and upkeep not mandated or enforced.

Part of the problem is the inconsistent application of the law from the federal government. During the Obama administration, it was widely reported that those charged with the duty of maintaining voter rolls did ‘not care about’ or were not ‘interested in pursuing’ Section 8 cases. Indeed, the Obama administration did not bring a single Section 8 case.

Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires states to regularly maintain voter rolls, removing people who have moved, died, or have been found otherwise ineligible.

The U.S. Election Assistance Commission recently released findings from the 2018 election administration. Texas was in line with the national average of voters removed from voter rolls with 10.3 percent being removed. The national average was 8.17 percent.

California, on the other hand, removed only 2.9 percent of total registered voters. Indiana ranked first on the removal list, knocking off 28 percent of registered voters. Indiana, a state with around 6.6 million residents removed 1.3 million voters. California, a state with a population nearing 40 million removed just 733,000 voters.

In Texas, the buck for voter registration and election administration stops with county officials. If you’re interested in working with Direct Action Texas to ensure your county is working to ensure accurate election administration through proper list maintenance, send us an email.

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