VOT­ING

The Covington News - - Lo­cal News -

dur­ing the same pe­riod.

Some coun­ties have sent let­ters to res­i­dents ask­ing them to pro­vide proof that they’re el­i­gi­ble to vote or be dis­qual­i­fied based on those checks.

Han­del said no reg­is­tered vot­ers have been stricken from the rolls be­cause of the im­mi­gra­tion checks. Of the 120,000 new voter ap­pli­ca­tions the depart­ment is now han­dling, she said of­fi­cials have ques­tioned an es­ti­mated 3,000. Some 2,000 in­volve cit­i­zen­ship, she said.

“You can see this is an ex­tremely crit­i­cal com­po­nent of the process, to be able to ver­ify the voter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process, that those in­di­vid­u­als are in­deed who they say they are,” she said. “That’s some­thing I think we should be able to agree on: Any in­di­vid­ual who is not el­i­gi­ble to vote should not.”

The law­suit cen­ters on Jose Mo­rales, who be­came a U.S. cit­i­zen in Novem­ber 2007 and reg­is­tered to vote last month.

Two weeks af­ter he reg­is­tered, a let­ter from Chero­kee County de­manded he pro­vide ev­i­dence of his cit­i­zen­ship, ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint. The law­suit does not spec­ify how county of­fi­cials flagged his ap­pli­ca­tion to check for cit­i­zen­ship. He re­ceived his vot­ing card soon af­ter he showed his pass­port to the regis­trar’s of­fice, but this week an­other let­ter asked him to again ver­ify his cit­i­zen­ship and warned him his name could be re­moved if he did not.

The vot­ing rights at­tor­neys blasted the let­ters as an in­tim­i­da­tion tac­tic.

“This is pre­cisely the kind of sys­tem­atic purg­ing that fed­eral law bars,” said Elise Shore, an at­tor­ney for the Mex­i­can Amer­i­can Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tional Fund. She said it “cre­ates a bar­rier that dis­cour­ages peo­ple from show­ing up at the polls.”

The fed­eral judge made no im­me­di­ate de­ci­sion on whether to or­der the state to stop the checks.

States have been try­ing to fol­low the Help Amer­ica Vote Act of 2002 by re­mov­ing the names of vot­ers who should no longer be listed.

Else­where in the coun­try, Colorado of­fi­cials were re­view­ing the way the state deals with po­ten­tially in­el­i­gi­ble vot­ers af­ter ques­tions were raised about whether it is vi­o­lat­ing fed­eral law by putting such vot­ers on a “can­cel” list within 90 days of the elec­tion.

A fed­eral judge in Ohio on Thurs­day or­dered the state’s top elec­tions of­fi­cial to ver­ify the iden­tity of newly reg­is­tered votes by match­ing them with other gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments. That in­cludes match­ing new reg­is­trants’ vot­ing in­for­ma­tion against data­bases main­tained by Ohio driver’s li­censes and the So­cial Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

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