How to use this resource guide

This resource guide is intended to help advocates and local leaders:

  • Advocate for lawmakers and election officials to make common-sense improvements to current voter removal practices and the safeguards they have in place to protect eligible voters and
  • Spot and oppose bad bills that increase the likelihood that eligible voters will be wrongfully removed from the rolls before election day. 

When a state or county conducts a program to systematically remove people from its list of registered voters, this is called “voter list maintenance.” When done correctly, these programs can increase the accuracy of voter rolls by removing people who pass away, no longer live in the state, or have become ineligible for other reasons. However, the lack of clear and uniform standards for list maintenance has resulted in inconsistent standards from state to state and poorly developed “voter purge” programs have often led to the mass disenfranchisement of eligible voters, disproportionately impacting voters of color, low-income voters, and young people.

State legislatures should amend their list maintenance laws to protect eligible voters against wrongful and discriminatory voter purges and create more transparent and more accurate removal practices, with better notice to voters in their states. The section on best practices for list maintenance walks through the key provisions that good list maintenance legislation should contain. If you wish to advocate for your state legislature to adopt one or more of these provisions, we have provided examples from different states to serve as a starting point for your state’s legislation.

The section on how to spot a bad list maintenance bill is intended to serve as a watchlist for legislation that, whether intentionally or inadvertently, makes wrongful voter purges more likely to occur. Once again, we have provided examples of bad bills from various states to make it easier to spot similar tactics if they turn up in your own state’s legislative session.

For a more in-depth analysis of voter removal practices and safeguards, please refer to Dēmos’ report, Protecting Voter Registration: An Assessment of Voter Purge Policies in Ten States.