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Press release/statement

Threats to Ballot Access: New Report Examines Risks of Wrongful Voter Removals Across the Country

Dēmos examines ballot access issues, voter suppression in AZ, GA, OH, CA, IN, WI, MI, NC, TX, LA  

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dēmos, a movement-oriented think tank committed to racial justice, today released Protecting Voter Registration: An Assessment of Voter Purge Policies in Ten States, a report assessing voter removal practices across ten different states and the risks they pose for kicking eligible voters off the registration rolls. The report analyzes voter purge practices, the safeguards in place to protect voters from disenfranchisement, and accessibility and transparency of voter data across Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin.

This analysis makes it clear that we must pass comprehensive, federal voting rights legislation.

“Protecting voting rights and fair elections includes equitable election administration and voter roll maintenance,” said Taifa Smith Butler, President of Dēmos. “We are facing an unprecedented assault on voting rights in this country, and purges that erroneously target eligible voters for removal are part of the problem. The Supreme Court has spent the last decade systematically weakening the protections in the Voting Rights Act. Extremist state legislatures are passing laws that disproportionately target Black and brown voters. Voter suppression efforts are a direct threat to the basic rights of Black and brown people, families and communities, as well as young and rural voters. This analysis makes it clear that we must pass comprehensive, federal voting rights legislation.”

The report examines voter removal practices, including routine list maintenance that removes people who are no longer eligible to vote, as well as more harmful laws targeting voters for removal for not voting, permitting third-party challenges to voter registration, and granting broad removal authority for election officials without built-in safeguards.

Dēmos selected the ten states in the report because of their existing voter removal laws and protections, the accessibility of their registration data, and because a majority of these states’ legislatures have recently considered or passed laws impacting how voters are removed from the registration rolls.

Report Highlights

  • None of the 10 states evaluated are a model for list maintenance policies that prevent improper purges and ensure full access to the ballot.
  • All ten states have extensive room for improvement in their removal practices to ensure that only ineligible voters are removed from the rolls. All of the states reviewed need better systems to ensure that erroneously removed eligible voters can re-register and vote in the current election.
  • While some states received perfect scores for data transparency and accessibility, they still received failing grades for their removal practices and safeguards against inappropriate removal. Transparency and data accessibility alone do not prevent eligible voters from being erroneously purged.
  • Too many states continue to delete eligible voters from the roll and silence their powerful voices—often without their knowledge and slim chances for recourse.
  • Dēmos’ report concludes that because the states included in the report represent considerable geographic, demographic, and ideological diversity, there is good reason to fear the issues exposed in this report are not confined to these ten states but are likely widespread across the entire United States.

Report Recommendations

  • State lawmakers should amend current removal laws to protect eligible voters against wrongful and discriminatory voter pures, offer safeguards like same-day voter registration so erroneously-purged voters may still cast a ballot, establish safeguards against problematic third-party challenges and rein in overly-broad removal authority given to some election officials, and improve data accessibility and transparency.
  • Congress should enact federal legislation with comprehensive protections against improper purges of eligible voters, such as the Freedom to Vote Act, which came very close to passage in the 117th Congress and has been reintroduced in the 118th.

To view the full report assessing voter purge policies and recommendations for how state lawmakers and election officials can ensure registration rolls are accurate, click here.

To learn more about how Dēmos is building economic, political and civic power to realize a just, inclusive, multiracial economy and democracy, click here.


About Dēmos

Dēmos is a movement-oriented think tank committed to racial justice. Through research, litigation, strategic communications and deep partnerships with grassroots organizations across the country, we build power with and for Black and brown communities. Building economic, political and civic power is required to realize our vision of a just, inclusive, multiracial economy and democracy

Read the report