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Brennan Center Expresses Serious Concern over St. Louis Board of Elections Letter to Voter Registrat

October 30, 2006

For Immediate Release
Monday, October 30, 2006

Contact Information
Jonathan Rosen, BerlinRosen Public Affairs
(646) 452–5637

Brennan Center Expresses Serious Concern over
St. Louis Board of Elections Letter to Voter Registration Applicants

Letter to 5,000 Registrants is Confusing, Intimidating and Likely to Dissuade Eligible Voters from Voting on Election Day

New York, NY Today the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law expressed serious concern over letters sent to over 5,000 voter registration applicants in St. Louis by the St. Louis Board of Elections. The letters direct voter registration applicants to call the Board of Elections in the next three days and to sign and return the letter, along with the voters phone number, to the board. The letters do not specify any problems with the individuals voter registration applications but still require individuals to respond immediately for the board “to complete the registration process.”

“This novel procedure in St. Louis comes one week before a hotly contested U.S. Senate race and involves voter registration applications received as far back as July. The letter suggests that there is a problem with a voters registration, but it does not say what the problem is or how to fix it. The letter is confusing, intimidating and will likely dissuade eligible voters from voting on Election Day,” said Wendy Weiser, Deputy Director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center.

“This ad hoc procedure is extremely out of the ordinary and, as far as we know, unprecedented. It does not look like a legitimate voter outreach or election security measure,” continued Weiser.

“Other jurisdictions follow regular procedures for addressing voter registration forms with incomplete information or mistakes. Officials contact the registrants in a timely fashion and give a specific explanation of the problem with their application. These notices give citizens ample time to cure the deficiency in their application so they can be sure that they are registered to vote on Election Day,” said Justin Levitt an attorney at the Brennan Center.

The Brennan Center also questioned the St. Louis BOEs targeting only those voters registered by the community organizing group ACORN. It is highly unusual to send a letter of this nature only to voters who are associated with one community group, especially when there is no specific defect alleged in those individual voters applications. This kind of imprecise and targeted procedure does not have the safeguards of a regular and fair ballot security measure. Instead, it looks like an attempt to intimidate eligible voters and prevent them from casting their ballots on Election Day, continued Weiser.

“We call on the St. Louis Board of Elections to immediately retract the letter and to make all voters aware of their right to vote next Tuesday,” concluded Weiser.