Recently-Passed Law Could Illegally Boot Voters from Registration Rolls in Indiana

May 25, 2017

Advocacy Groups Send Letter to State’s Chief Election Officer

A new law set to take effect this summer in Indiana would illegally remove voters from the voter rolls, civic groups wrote in a letter today to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. 
The Brennan Center for Justice, writing also on behalf of the Indiana NAACP, the Service Employees International Union, and its members said Senate Bill 442 violates provisions of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) established to protect voters from improperly being removed from registration rolls. Known as “motor-voter,” the NVRA sets clear procedures officials must follow before deleting a voter believed to have moved from one jurisdiction to another from the rolls.  
The Hoosier State’s new law, set to take effect July 1, seemingly ignores these protections by allowing election officials to immediately remove voters identified as having registered in another state by the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck. This process, which finds a match based on first name, last name, and date of birth alone, has resulted in wrongful removals when used elsewhere. The letter notes that in Virginia, the Crosscheck had error rates as high as 17 percent. 
“It is critical that no Indiana voter be wrongly disenfranchised,” said Barbara Bolling-Williams, President of the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP. “We are firmly committed to ensuring the State of Indiana protect the rights of all its citizens.”
“Motor-voter exists to protect people from state purges without safeguards,” said Myrna PĂ©rez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program.  “Indiana must take immediate action to ensure voters are not illegally booted, and can have their voice heard on Election Day.”
The letter is the first formal step in a statutory process to resolve the issue. In the letter, the groups offer to work with Lawson’s office to ensure voters are fully protected under federal law.
For more information, visit the Brennan Center’s website.