This Week in the Fight to Vote • December 14 – 20

By Chris deLaubenfels, Director of Policy and Communications, Let America Vote

Sweeping purges in key battleground states

With 2020 just around the corner, the GOP has doubled down on their efforts to aggressively purge voters from voting rolls.  

Last Friday, a Wisconsin state judge ordered that 234,000 voters be removed from the state’s voting rolls. That is 7% of the Wisconsin electorate! While the election commission was going to begin cleaning the voter registration rolls in 2021, a conservative group brought a lawsuit arguing that any voter who didn’t respond to a Wisconsin Election Commission letter seeking address confirmation within 30 days should be purged. This purge is about suppressing the vote, not election integrity.  

Then, on Monday, Georgia purged 309,000 voters from its voting rolls. Alarmingly, 120,561 voters were purged because they chose not to vote in recent elections. Voters should never be removed from the voting roles solely because they have chosen not to vote in recent elections. This is voter suppression plain and simple.

If you live in Wisconsin, you can check your registration status here. If you live in Georgia, you can check your registration status here.

How these purges could tip the 2020 election

Ari Berman wrote this week that these voter purges in Wisconsin and Georgia may very well tip the 2020 elections.  Berman writes about how alarming the number of purged voters is: “These numbers are large enough to swing close elections. Donald Trump carried Wisconsin by 22,000 votes; the number of soon-to-be purged voters is more than 10 times his margin of victory. Democrat Stacey Abrams failed to qualify for a runoff against Brian Kemp in the 2018 governor’s race by 21,000 votes; the number of purged voters in Georgia is 14 times that.”

This week, an Indiana based conservative organization filed a lawsuit in Michigan, another 2020 battleground state, to purge inactive voters.We need to be on the lookout for more GOP attacks on our voter rolls going forward. 

Huge week for voting rights restoration

In just one week, New Jersey and Kentucky together restored the right to vote to over 200,000 citizens

Last Friday, Kentucky’s new Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear issued an executive order that any Kentuckian who had completed their sentence for a non-violent felony conviction will have their rights automatically restored. This executive action enfranchised approximately 140,000 Kentuckians. 

On Wednesday, Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that will restore voting rights to all adult citizens who are not incarcerated. Until this week, New Jerseyians on parole and probation were disenfranchised. This law should restore voting rights to around 80,000 citizens.

Now Iowa is the only state to permanently disenfranchise individuals with felony records. While Iowa Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds has simplified the process for Iowans to petition for their voting rights to be restored, her changes have had little effect and she has refused to issue an executive order to restore voting rights. We need to elect politicians who will actually fight for the voting rights of all citizens.

Ohio voters disenfranchised in 2018

This week the AP reported that thousands of Ohio voters’ absentee ballots weren’t counted in 2018 because of a missing or mismatched signature on their ballot applications. The signature requirement for absentee ballots is spottily and arbitrarily enforced. The signature requirement is an unnecessary barrier to the ballot and is disenfranchising voters.

Election security funding approved

The spending deal agreed to this week by House and Senate negotiators includes $425 million for election security. This came after Senate Majority Leader McConnell had opposed election security funding for months. While this funding is much needed to ensure free and fair elections, the Senate still needs to pass much needed election security reform legislation. 

This week’s must read

The New Yorker published an amazing story on how Crystal Mason has become the face for voter suppression in America. Mason mistakenly attempted to vote in the 2016 election, not knowing that she was ineligible because she was on federal supervised release. Her vote was never even counted, but she was sentenced to 5-years in prison for her attempt to vote while ineligible. Mason’s story is heartbreaking and shows how broken our election system can be.