News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

North Carolina was one of the states partially covered by the Voting Rights Act "preclearance" requirement that was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Purges worst in places Justice Department no longer oversees, research shows

Voters in counties that were once under federal oversight because of past election discrimination are being purged from the registration rolls at much higher rates than other counties, according to new research.

The Brennan Center for Justice, in a report released this week, examined the culling of registered voters by state officials across the country in the previous three years. One aim was to see what had happened in the years since the Supreme Court struck down as antiquated the system for deciding which states and counties would require Justice Department approval before making any changes to election procedures – such as purging of voting lists.

This "preclearance" requirement, a central part of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, applied to eight states in the South and parts of six other states where there was a history of racial discrimination in the political process.


The Brennan Center found that 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018. The purge rate for that period in jurisdictions previously covered by preclearance was 40 percent higher than in those areas not covered by that oversight requirement, researchers found.

The principal stated aim of such purges is to remove duplicates, the dead and people who've moved out of state – all in the name of preventing potential fraud. But the improper removal of properly registered and politically active people has historically been used as a technique to prevent blacks and other minorities from voting.

Heading into the 2020 election, the report calls on election administrators to be "diligent in their efforts to avoid erroneously purging voters."

News. Community. Debate. Levers for better democracy.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter.

NickyBlade/Getty Images

More states rolling the dice for election security

The paper trail has become the industry standard for giving voters and elections officials confidence that ballots haven't been hacked. Now comes another back-to-the-future move for boosting security and bolstering public confidence in elections: the return of the 10-sided dice.

The quirky toys found in many high school classrooms and role-playing games are part of a pilot program announced this week in Pennsylvania, which is joining a handful of other states in trying out a math-based system for checking the accuracy of election returns.

The "risk-limiting audit" searches for irregularities in vote tallies and relies on some seriously advanced statistical analysis combined with a bit of analog randomness, which is where auditors using those pentagonal trapezohedrons (the dice) at public audit hearings will ­­get involved.

Keep reading... Show less
Inquire Indiana: Which Counties Don't Have Paper Ballots?

Indiana moving far too slowly to thwart election hacking, lawsuit alleges

Indiana is not moving nearly assertively enough to upgrade its voting machines so they're less vulnerable to hackers, a nonprofit alleges in a federal lawsuit pressing the state to spend millions more before the presidential election.

At issue is the timetable for eliminating the direct recording electronic, or DRE, voting machines that are in use in 58 of the state's 92 counties. The complaint filed Thursday by Indiana Vote by Mail, which advocates for any array of proposals to give Hoosiers easier access to the ballot box, wants to force the state to replace the paperless devices in the next year with machines that produce a voter-verified paper audit trail.

Indiana for now looks to be among just eight states using paperless balloting in 2020, when President Trump will be counting on its 11 electoral votes. The state last went for the Democratic candidate for president in 2008.

Keep reading... Show less