According to a New York Times article, tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law. States have been trying to follow the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which requires election officials to use the Social Security database to check a registration application only as a last resort, if no record of the applicant is found on state databases, like those for driver’s licenses or identification cards. The requirement exists because using the federal database is less reliable than the state lists, and is more likely to incorrectly flag applications as invalid. Many state officials seem to be using the Social Security lists first.
Last week, after the inquiry by the Times, Michael J. Astrue, the commissioner of the Social Security Administration, alerted the Justice Department to the problem and sent letters to election officials in Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio. The letters ask the officials to ensure that they are complying with federal law. By using the Social Security database so extensively, states are flagging extra registrations and creating extra work for local officials who are already struggling to process all the voter registration applications by Election Day. Read More