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 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.