Rep. Davis Dropped from the Voter Roll
Former U.S. Congressman Lincoln Davis found out the hard way that voter suppression still exists in the U.S. He went to vote but learned he had been dropped from the voter rolls. He did not vote that day.
Davis and thousands of other Tennesseans were illegally taken off voter rolls in a recent purge of old registrations and were not notified. Davis has now filed a lawsuit seeking class-action status against Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R), Secretary of State Tre Hargett, and State Election Coordinator Mark Goins. A December report included in Davis’s lawsuit shows that more than 45,000 active registrations and 32,000 inactive registrations were purged in the six preceding months.
At best, a purge of eligible voters can be a clerical error arising from the complex and outdated registration system. At worst, it can be a suppression technique to drop eligible voters from the rolls. Wendy Weiser, an elections expert with New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, said, “What most people don’t know is that every year, elections officials strike millions of names from the voter rolls using processes that are secret, prone to error and vulnerable to manipulation.” It happens all the time.
The most important step that can be taken is to let voters know they are going to be purged from the list and give them ample time to respond. Project Vote’s report, Maintaining Current and Accurate Voter Lists, states, “One way to avoid disenfranchising eligible voters due to errors in database matching or other errors is to give advance notice of removal to all affected voters.” If TN had given notice, Rep. Davis’s right to vote would not have been taken away.