More than 1.5 million voters could be purged from Texas voter rolls, according to an analysis by the Houston Chronicle. The newspaper warned Texans on Monday to keep an eye on their mail, so that voter registration cancellations do not go by unnoticed.
One in 10 voters has already had their registration suspended in Texas. For voters under 30, that number doubles to one in five.
The Secretary of State is required by law to regularly remove duplicates from the voter rolls and eliminate voters who moved out-of-state or died. But the process inevitably produces errors, and eligible voters can end up having their registration suspended. Between November 2008 to November 2010, more than 300,000 eligible voters were notified they could be removed from the voter rolls.
The errors are compounded by "outdated computer programs, faulty procedures and voter responses to generic form letters, often resulting in the wrong people being sent cancellation notices," the Houston Chronicle explained.
Approximately 21 percent of voters who received voter registration cancellation letters were able to prove they were eligible to vote, according an analysis of the latest U.S. Election Assistance Commission data. The percentage was troublingly high in Collin County, where 70 percent of those who received cancellation letters were able to prove they were eligible to vote.
Walter Pinkston of Harris County received a cancellation letter because he shared the same name as someone who died in Colorado.
"That seems like a very flimsy set of facts and reasoning to go about challenging my right to vote," Pinkston told the Houston Chronicle. "And in my opinion, that's a very flimsy set of circumstances to spend Harris County taxpayers' money to investigate the matter, even if it's only a few dollars in postage and associated costs."
Other Texas voters complained that they had been purged from the voter rolls for failing to respond to a cancellation letter -- a letter they claimed to never have received.
"How can you suspend someone without notice? To me we should be actively engaging people -- we should not be adding any barrier to vote," said Sylvia Garcia, a former Harris County commissioner who had her registration suspended because county officials questioned her address.
[Image via Tom Arthur, Creative Commons licensed]