In what has become a very close race in my home state of Virginia, it was announced that approximately 57,000 people would be potentially purged from the voter rolls due to supposedly being also registered to vote in another state. While it’s always a good idea to make sure you don’t have people still on the books who no longer live in the state, the timing of this make me really suspicious. Not the “that’s an interesting coincidence” kind of suspicious, but the “something smells really fishy here” sort of gut feeling that made me want to look a little further.
You see, the deadline to register to vote in Virginia is October 14th and there is no same day registration, nor the opportunity to cast a provisional ballot if you were to get to the polls after being mistakenly scratched from the list – even with a current ID and documentation showing you are a resident of that precinct. Here is a current list of Voter Rights and Responsibilities from the Virginia State Board of Elections.
So what’s so suspicious about this purge? If the deadline to register is just 22 days before Election Day and the letters started going out in August, that’s not a very long time frame for people to get the issue corrected. Mind you, these aren’t warning letters stating something along the lines of “we have reason to believe you are no longer living in the State of Virginia, please respond to this within 30 days or your registration will be canceled.” No, this is a case of “you’re canceled, and if this was a mistake, you have just a few weeks to get this corrected.” It’s a shoot first, correct later approach which theoretically could keep tens of thousands of people from voting, and in a race which has gone from a lead early on for Ken Cuccinelli to what’s now a 6 to 10 point lead for Terry McAuliffe, that could very well make a difference in the outcome.
If this had been announced earlier in the year, with plenty of time and warning for the affected voters, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, when you proactively cancel registrations without even giving them a chance to prove registration and then provide only a very small window to re-register – that tells me something smells very, very rotten in Richmond.
So what can you do? If you know someone who lives in Virginia, please forward them this link and make sure that their registration is current. If they’re not registered to vote, encourage them to do so now. This is very likely the most important election of 2013.
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