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Voters illegally removed from rolls in swing states: NYT

[JURIST] Thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from voter rolls against federal voting law, according to a New York Times report [text] published Thursday. The report examined the actions of election officials in Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina, and found that the removal of a number of registered voters violated the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) [text]. Under HAVA, states are only allowed to cross-check voter rolls with lists from the federal Social Security Administration [official website] as a last resort. According to the Times, a number of states have used the Social Security list as a first option, leading to a large number of voters being stricken from the more current state voting rolls. HAVA was signed into law by President Bush in 2002, and aims to provide greater protection to voters in the wake of the controversy over the results of the 2000 presidential election that pitted now-president George W. Bush [WH website] against former vice president Al Gore [personal website].

The Times report adds to growing controversy over voting laws and procedures in the run-up to November 2008 voting. Earlier this month, both the Ohio Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official websites] rejected Republican challenges [JURIST report] to a directive by the Ohio secretary of state that would co-mingle absentee and regular ballots. Last month, voting rights advocates and elections officials expressed fears [JURIST report] that a lawsuit [complaint text, PDF; press release] brought by the Wisconsin Department of Justice [official website] will effectively disenfranchise thousands of voters by causing chaos at the polls in November. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen [official profile] filed suit against the state's Government Accountability Board [official website] on Wednesday, seeking to force the elections agency to cross-check the identities of recently registered voters against names in other state databases, pursuant to HAVA.

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