Protect rights for all to vote



Frank Fotia, the Republican member of St. Joseph County’s Voter Registration Board, said a new state law that allows local officials to remove voters from their rolls if it is believed they have moved to another state has had no impact on the county up to now.

Common Cause Indiana is suing Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, accusing her office of allowing voters to be illegally purged from the state’s voting rolls.

Critics argue the new law eliminates a requirement for state officials to comply with safeguards when removing certain voters from the rolls. They say Indiana’s cross-checking of names on voter rolls using the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck” system violates federal law and is discriminatory.

Fotia said the county in the past has relied on a system of mail notification to try and verify a voter’s registration. Two letters are sent, and if the county never hears from that voter again, it would wait two years and then purge them from the rolls.

“We try to err on the side of leaving someone on the rolls,” Fotia said, adding that his office is open 12 hours Election Day ready to issue a certificate of error if voter can prove residency.

Fotia said Voter Registration hasn’t received much direction from the state regarding the new law.

The Crosscheck system has been roundly criticized for its inaccuracy. Error rates as high as 17 percent have been found, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute. And officials with the center have said a 2016 analysis found that minorities are more likely to be flagged for removal by the Crosscheck process.

Any process that complicates or creates obstacles to a person’s right to vote is unreasonable. Like many of the voter ID laws that have been adopted across the country, the laws are a solution in search of a problem. They threaten to disenfranchise voters. And like what is occurring right now in the Hoosier state, they should be challenged.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].

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