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Voter Purges

Voter purges are an often-flawed process of cleaning up voter rolls by deleting names from registration lists. The Brennan Center works to ensure that they are nondiscriminatory and do not disenfranchise eligible voters.


Voter purges are an often-flawed process of clean­ing up voter rolls by delet­ing names from regis­tra­tion lists. While updat­ing regis­tra­tion lists as voters die, move, or other­wise become ineligible is neces­sary and import­ant, when done irre­spons­ibly — with bad data or when two voters are confused for the same person — the process can knock eligible voters off the roll en masse, often with little notice. Many voters discover they’re no longer listed only when they arrive at the polling place. As a result, many eligible Amer­ic­ans either don’t vote or are forced to cast provi­sional ballots.

Over the last decade, juris­dic­tions have substan­tially increased the rate at which they purge voter rolls. Bren­nan Center research found that between 2014 and 2016, states removed almost 16 million voters from the rolls — a 33 percent increase over the period between 2006 and 2008. The increase was highest in states with a history of voting discrim­in­a­tion. 

In addi­tion to research and monit­or­ing voter purges, the Bren­nan Center provides legal assist­ance and advocacy to ensure that voter purges are nondis­crim­in­at­ory and do not disen­fran­chise eligible voters.

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