Election Bill Could Stop Thousands of Eligible People From Voting

By Erin Ferns Lee January 31, 2017
Virginia state capitol in Richmond. (Ron Cogswell/Creative Commons)

Project Vote submitted testimony in opposition to Virginia’s “no match, no vote” bill, SB 1581. The Senate Privileges and Elections Committee is scheduled to hear it today.

The bill proposes an unpredictable, costly, and burdensome process as a prerequisite to voter registration that is prone to errors. In essence, SB 1581 would reject any voter application if the name, Social Security number, and date of birth do not match information on file with the Social Security Administration or other database approved by the State Board of Elections, and would subject existing voters’ registrations to the same scheme.

On the surface, it might sound innocuous, if it weren’t for the probability of data entry errors, typos, and other issues that are no fault of the applicant and have nothing to do with their eligibility to vote.

“This bill is likely to stop thousands of eligible Virginians from voting by making their fundamental rights subject to government data entry errors, typos, and other non-substantive problems unrelated to eligibility,” said Project Vote election counsel, Michelle Kanter Cohen in today’s testimony.

“Project Vote is unaware of any state that has attempted to purge the rolls in such a manner and would expect the process to result in a high proportion of inaccurate and likely illegal cancellations of eligible voters,” she said.

We urge the Senate committee to “defeat this measure and to instead focus on reforms that would expand and promote citizen participation in elections.”

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