Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Voter rolls purged
350 names are removed from local voter lists
Sunday, October 20, 2013
By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Exactly 350 names recently were purged from voter rolls in Martinsville, Henry County and Patrick County because the voters also were registered in other states, according to area registrars.
According to a report by The Associated Press, county registrars statewide purged names from the voter rolls on orders from the Republican-controlled Virginia State Board of Elections. The orders were based on evidence from a multi-state database that identified voters who had subsequently registered in other states.
The elections board sent lists of potentially double-registered voters to every county and city in Virginia. All told, nearly 40,000 voters were purged from the state rolls.
In Henry County, the list contained 258 names, 224 of which were purged from the rolls; in Martinsville, the list contained 69 names, 53 of which were purged; and in Patrick County, the list contained 79 names, 73 of which were purged, according to area registrars.
According to Henry County Registrar Elizabeth Stone, “The difference in the ones that weren’t purged is that our registration dates were more current than the other state’s.” In other words, if someone on the list registered to vote in Virginia more recently than he had registered to vote in another state, he was kept on the Virginia rolls and removed from the other state’s rolls.
According to the AP report, Virginia Democrats sought an injunction requiring the State Board of Elections to reinstate the voters who had been purged from the rolls. They argued that the lists were riddled with errors and that registrars were using different methods to determine which names should be removed.
On Friday, a federal judge rejected that request.
Stone said she personally does not view the purge in partisan terms, and she is in favor of it.
“I really think it’s a fair thing to do,” she said. “We do want people to vote, but we don’t want them to vote in two states.”
In most cases, Stone didn’t think there was any malicious intent driving people to register in two states; often, she said, they just forget to change their registration.
“The few calls that we did get,” Stone said, “They said, ‘I’ve been living (in Virginia) the whole time.’ I would ask, ‘Did you ever live in Tennessee?’ They would say, ‘Oh, I just worked there for a little while.’”
Patrick County registrar Susan Taylor shared a similar viewpoint.
“Some of it was probably just failure to notify the other state that they had moved, or miscommunication between states,” she said. “The majority of the ones we (purged) were inactive voters who had never voted.”