Current News



Republicans scrutinize voting rolls and ramp up for mass challenges ahead of election

Matt Vasilogambros, on

Published in News & Features

Some states, including Georgia and Indiana, have made it easier to remove registered voters from the rolls. And Trump-aligned groups have launched data analysis tools to aid in large-scale challenges to voter registrations.

Election experts say maintaining accurate voter lists is a key part of election administration, but they are concerned that the challenges and lawsuits could bolster unfounded claims of rampant voter fraud. They also worry it could create undue hardships on voters who may have to prove their eligibility close to an election, and bog down election offices with frivolous data requests and challenges.

“When you see efforts to do mass challenges in the midst of the presidential primaries and months before a major election, you’ve got to wonder whether the intent is to create chaos and confusion amongst voters rather than legitimate list maintenance,” said David Becker, founder and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, a nonpartisan organization that advises local election officials nationwide.

Voter challenges aren’t inherently bad, he said. There are legitimate reasons to bring a challenge: A neighbor may have died or moved away, for example, and a voter wants to let an election official know.

But Becker is concerned that mass challenges and lawsuits could make voter lists less accurate, which could lead to problems at polling places, more provisional ballots and longer lines — creating the conditions for candidates to claim an election was stolen.

Mass voter challenges


Georgia enacted a law in 2021 that allows residents to make unlimited challenges to voter registrations, and requires local election officials to respond to those challenges within 10 business days. Thousands of registrations were challenged, and local election officials raced frantically to check the data and send responses.

The next year, 10 election staffers in Gwinnett County, Georgia, worked more than 40 days straight to handle 47,000 challenges in the midterm election, said Zach Manifold, the county elections supervisor. Fair Fight, a local voting rights group, said data showed those challenges disproportionately targeted people of color and younger voters.

The county’s voter roll is “a living and breathing document,” Manifold said. His office processes thousands of routine changes weekly. In addition to regular updates at the county level and being a member of ERIC, Georgia conducts large-scale list maintenance on odd years.

While a federal judge ruled in January that mass challenges in Georgia are not illegal intimidation, he did emphasize that the list of potentially ineligible voters that conservative activists compiled to contest registrations “utterly lacked reliability” that “verges on recklessness.”


swipe to next page

©2024 States Newsroom. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


blog comments powered by Disqus