More voters than eligible adults? Group makes dubious claim

Our voting rolls are a genuine mess.  But that does not mean election officials are not trying. It does not mean that slews of individuals are voting illegally:

McClatchy story:  More voters than eligible adults? Group makes dubious claim about California <read>

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has twice rebuffed demands for voter data from a commission created by President Donald Trump to investigate unproven claims of voter fraud last fall. Now a conservative Washington, D.C.-based legal group has threatened to sue the state over what it contends are California counties’ failure to properly maintain lists of inactive voters. The Aug. 1 letter from Judicial Watch to Padilla alleges that 11 California counties have more registered voters than their estimated populations of citizens eligible to vote. The claim was picked up Breitbart and other news sites and prompted Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, to post on Twitter, “11 counties in California have more total registered voters than citizens over the age of 18. How is this possible?” Short answer: It’s not. California voter registration stood at 19.4 million as of February. No California county is anywhere close to having more voters than its estimated number of citizens deemed eligible to vote.

Judicial Watch’s claim rests on its inclusion of “inactive voters” – people who have been removed from active rolls after a mail ballot, voter guide or other official document was returned as undeliverable – usually as a result of moving. They aren’t reflected in turnout tallies or signature-gathering requirements, don’t receive election materials, and are ignored by campaigns.

Inactive voters nevertheless underline Judicial Watch’s math suggesting that Los Angeles County has a registration rate of 112 percent, for example, or Stanislaus County has a registration rate of 102 percent. The letter cites a “failure to maintain accurate, up-to-date voter registration lists.”

Like earlier studies that showed many dead voters still on the rolls in Connecticut, it is understandable given what election officials have to work with.  We have no national ID card or ID number.  Officials register voters all the time, but there is no reasonable way of identifying voters who have moved or died, so that they can be removed from the rolls.  It is an especial challenge to cities with many low-income voters which move frequently.

We cannot make a job impossible and then blame officials for not being able to accomplish it.


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