Today, the Pew Center released a new report stating that nationwide, approximately 1.8 million dead people are registered to vote. In addition, 24 million registrations are said to be invalid or inaccurate. This is the tip of the iceberg with regards to the problems with voter registration in this country, and there seems to be little will to address them.
This is such a great example of the ineptitude of bureaucracy. Government agencies, and governments themselves, don’t share information. Death records from the Social Security Administration, for example, could be cross-referenced with voter rolls in a given state each year, but they aren’t. States don’t share lists of newly registered voters to cross-reference, either. In Texas, our counties don’t even share that information, so if you move from say, Denton County to Travis County, you may be registered to vote in both counties.
Data-matching is often responsible for legitimate voters dropping from the rolls. There is no real way to guarantee invalid registrations fall permanently off voter rolls, since readjustments are sometimes necessary to catch valid registrations that have been cut. And we do know that voter registration problems occur.
On the same day that this appalling information comes out, we get news of a lawsuit filed against the state of Texas by a group called Voting for America. The lawsuit alleges that volunteer voter registrars are kept from doing their jobs by onerous restrictions, and that limited public access to voter rolls keeps anyone from knowing for sure whether a voter is properly added to the system. Never mind that the opportunity to register to vote is quite literally everywhere – when you get your driver’s license, on the counter at the grocery store and the post office and countless other places, often in welcoming packets for new homeowners and renters. The lawsuit does cite some obvious problems, especially in the process and requirements for volunteer registrars, but it seems that ballot integrity is less important to Voting for America than sheer numbers of registered voters. The priority ought to be focusing on making sure that only those who are properly registered have their votes counted accurately.
It hasn’t gotten as much play as the drama over redistricting in Texas, but caught up in a similar battle with the U.S. Department of Justice is the voter identification law passed last year. It was supposed to go into effect by now, but the most liberal DOJ in American history is hamstringing Texas elections and election integrity five ways from Sunday, and it doesn’t look like it will end soon. Voter identification won’t solve all the problems with regard to voter registration. But it is a huge step in the right direction; with so much uncertainty as to whether the voter rolls are even accurate, the very least we can do to ensure integrity at the ballot box is ask people to prove their identity. The Department of Justice’s continuing hostility to Texas’ attempts to protect ballot integrity is a perfect example of the administration’s lack of concern in this matter.
I say all of this while the deep ambiguity of our postponed primary season continues. Which is also due to those more concerned about appearances than anything else, and a vindictive Department of Justice set on disenfranchising Texans as long as possible. The fun just never ends.