Flawed data sent out by the Arkansas secretary of state’s office in conjunction with the Arkansas Crime Information Center incorrectly flagged thousands of people to be removed from voter registration lists, meaning several Arkansas voters will have to prove their status before this year’s presidential election if the issue isn’t fixed. In many cases, that will result in undue burden to voters, some county clerks have said, even hinting at possible future lawsuits over the mess-up. The problem arose when the secretary of state’s elections division sought to update voter lists with new felon data to ensure that felons still in prison or on parole or probation aren’t allowed to vote, per state law. In the process of getting the data from the Arkansas Crime Information Center, known as ACIC, about 4,000 people who have never been convicted of a felony were included on the list and flagged by error. Some of them may have been notified by their county clerks’ offices that their voter registration has been canceled, even though it shouldn’t have been.
In other cases, of which no agency is sure of an exact total, felons who have legally regained their right to vote were incorrectly flagged in the system. Some of them have also been notified that their registration has been canceled.
Each of Arkansas’ 75 counties follows its own protocol to process the data, so while some counties proceeded with canceling these people’s registration when the names were flagged by the secretary of state’s office, others are trying to confirm the information before doing that.
The secretary of state’s office and ACIC have acknowledged the errors. The elections division has since instructed clerks’ offices to verify whether someone has restored voting rights and to verify their felon status before removing them from the database.