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Virginia Removed 3,400 Eligible Voters from the Rolls

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) wants Republicans to win control of the General Assembly next week. He wants it very badly since it would give him the ability to pass his program, which is now blocked by the state Senate.

Now it appears that 3,400 eligible voters were removed from the rolls—possibly by accident, but we don't know. The removees were all on probation, which means they had been previously convicted of some offense. Statistically speaking, minorities are more often convicted of crimes than their numbers would otherwise warrant, and minorities skew Democratic, so removing people on probation from the rolls probably helps Republicans.

Was this intentional, due to incompetence, or simply a software bug? No one knows (yet). All but 100 have now been reinstated. However, Youngkin's view on former felons voting is clear. The three previous administrations (two Democratic and one Republican) all took steps to automatically restore felons' rights after they served their sentences. Youngkin reversed this policy and now requires former felons to apply (individually) to get their right to vote back, which election officials can approve or deny at their discretion, with no disclosed criteria. All in all it sounds like Youngkin is not keen on letting former felons vote.

But there is more. In Virginia, people can register to vote at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles when they are there for a driver's license, to register a new car, or for something else. However, there is a backlog of 256,000 registrations that have not been processed yet and may not make it before next week's election. It is almost as though the Youngkin administration has something against voting.

Finally, Republicans frequently complain about people voting illegally. A number of states have gotten together to share data on voters, to make sure that when someone moves to a new state and registers to vote there, he or she is automatically removed from the rolls in the old state. In principle, someone moving could go to the elections office before moving and ask to be removed from the rolls, but few people do this. Consequently, the interstate organization that is automating the procedure, the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), is crucial in preventing double voting.

One might think that Republicans would be strong supporters of ERIC. Nope. Wrong. Youngkin just pulled Virginia out of the group, even though it was a founding member. What's the problem? Well, in addition to trying to remove people who are no longer eligible to vote in some states, ERIC has another mission: helping people register to vote. This was unacceptable to Youngkin and some other Republican governors, so he and they have pulled out of the group. Just in case you thought voting was a nonpartisan matter, well, try again. You get three tries. (V)

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