When John Rossler showed up at a mid-July gathering of the nation’s top election officials in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he delivered the kind of big election news that can easily get lost. Rossler is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official who oversees a collection of immigrant information databases known as the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements program. Rossler told the group that he was prepared to grant access to SAVE, even though the system was not designed to help states verify voter eligibility. And, when the meeting in San Juan was over, two very different views of what happened emerged. In one, the bedrock of American democracy had suddenly been rescued from the threat of non-citizens on the nation’s voter rolls, several state election agencies said in interviews with The Huffington Post. In the other, voting rights advocates insist that as many as 27.4 million Americans in at least 14 states interested in accessing SAVE are suddenly facing the prospect of the kind of deeply flawed effort to identify voter fraud that drew national attention to Florida in June. Fourteen states have expressed interest in SAVE, and while most are developing plans to use it, two say they will not engage in a Florida-style voter purge.
Early last year, Republican election officials in Colorado, Florida and New Mexico initiated projects to compare the names of registered voters with those who have applied for licenses in each of their respective states. In Colorado, the process identified 4,000 suspect voters (the list has grown to 5,000 this year). In New Mexico, the process yielded no names. But in Florida, the voter rolls contained the names of 180,000 people that weren’t citizens when they applied for a state driver’s license, election officials have said.
The numbers left election officials all over the country concerned, said Andrew Cole, a spokesman for the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, which oversees elections in that state. And when state election officials gathered this month in Puerto Rico, a mix of Republican and Democratic Party-affiliated election overseers approved a resolution calling on Homeland Security to grant access to SAVE. “It’s unfortunate that DHS took a year of stonewalling before they decided to live up to their legal obligation,” Cole said. “We’re trying to safeguard the system here.” But voting rights advocates aren’t convinced concerns about voter roll integrity are driving interest in SAVE. “The claim that this is all born of some kind of organic and emerging set of concerns is laughable,” said Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the Advancement Project, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit that advocates for voting rights.
Full Article: Voter Roll Purges Could Spread To At Least 12 States.