New Orleans Since 2019, the Voter Purge Project, a partnership between ACORN International, Labor Neighbor Research & Training Center, and the Ohio Voter Project, have embraced the tedious, but essential, task of processing the pure voter lists produced by election officials around the country and distributed by Secretaries of State. At this point, we are regularly processing twenty-nine states, and are on our way to being able to assemble all fifty in our database by the end of the year.
Purges are a controversial issue in the US election system. They are somewhat legitimate, since any list or database needs to be maintained. Deceased voters need to be removed regularly. Voters moving out of state or wherever need to be properly sorted. At the same time, perhaps because of a Supreme Court decision concerning Ohio’s practice or in spite of the decision, purges have been politicized and created distrust, often for good reason, of the practice. The purge in Georgia in the last governor’s election in that state by the then Secretary of State, now governor, before the runoff remains an open sore on their process to this day. Errors and questionable practices that VPP has found in Ohio, Iowa, Florida, and elsewhere undergird the necessity of our work in ensuring that all eligible voters actually are able to access the ballot in their states.
With the US mid-term elections looming ahead, we drilled down on the battleground states and their lists to evaluate how were handling purges before the vote by comparing year-over changes in voter registration data for the report The Voter Purge Project: A Look at Trends in Battleground States, which we have now released both nationally and in the battle ground states.
Overall trends across these states indicate that:
- A net increase in the number of women registering to vote, outpacing men;
- More new voters and party switchers are going to the Republican Party;
- The number of unaffiliated voters is growing more than both Democrats and Republicans;
- Nearly 70,000 new registrants in 8 states appear to be incorrectly classified as “inactive” potentially moving them closer to getting removed from the rolls;
- The youngest cohort of voters declined as a share of the electorate, from 9.4% to 8.9%;
When the Voter Purge Project focused closely on just the state-level trends we found:
- Nevada boasts one of the highest purge rates in the nation (10.5%);
- Voters in Michigan appear to maintain relative security from unnecessary purges;
- The only majority Black county in Florida saw the state’s highest rate of voter purges;
- Three of the five highest poverty counties in Arizona lost voters while three of the five lowest poverty counties gained voters;
- In Pennsylvania, the number of young voters (18-24 years old) declined nearly eight percent;
We want fair elections, and we want all eligible voters to be able without worry to go to the polls and cast their ballots. Too many from all sides are casting doubt on the American election system. Our work assures some accountability, but we need everyone to follow what’s happening with voter lists in their states and nationally so that best practices can be rewarded, questions can be answered, and disturbing trends countered and corrected.