Tens of thousands illegally denied voting rights, sound familiar think 2004Submitted by sentinel on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 10:03
In Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina, eligible voters were taken off rolls, and new registrations were blocked, illegally.
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Tens of thousands of voters in at least six battleground states have been removed from election rolls or have been illegally blocked from registering to vote, according to an investigation by the New York Times published Thursday.
The anomalies, which are violations of US federal law, are largely bureaucratic mistakes in record keeping, and "do not seem to be coordinated by one party or the other, nor do they appear to be the result of election officials intentionally breaking rules," said the newspaper.
The states affected -- Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada and North Carolina -- are among the most crucial states that could swing either way in the November 4 presidential election between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama.
While neither party appears to have been guilty of violations, the Democrats will most likely suffer the most because more Democratic voters have newly registered this year than Republicans.
As such, "the heightened screening of new applications may affect their party's supporters disproportionately," the newspaper reported.
The Times also suggested the problems could keep up until election day, when people who have been removed turn up and expect to vote "only to be challenged by political party officials or election workers, resulting in confusion, long lines and heated tempers."
The newspaper identified the root cause as the 2002 Help America Vote Act, which allows states to remove from the rolls names of voters who should no longer be listed because they are dead, have moved out of the state or have been declared unfit to vote.
"For every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two," the newspaper reported.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), an influential association for civil rights, said in a statement Thursday that the Department of Justice should compel states to comply with federal law.
"These purges are in violation of federal law, including the National Voter Registration Act, which prohibits such purges of voters 90 days before a federal election," said the ACLU statement.