Voter Purges
Published October 10, 2018 / Updated August 7, 2020

Voter Purges

There are twenty-seven days until the midterm elections

by Chris Thomas

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Photo by Mirah Curzer

November is coming. As the election draws closer the knives are coming out in what is likely to be a pitched battle for control of the House and possibly the Senate. Somewhat less well covered are the 36 gubernatorial races that will be decided next month. A blue-wave could deliver a historic number of governorships to the Democrats just ahead of the 2020 redistricting, paving the way for an enduring House majority.

To fight this, Republicans are pulling out all of the stops. Voter purges in Georgia and Indiana have already struck nearly a quarter-million voters from polls. These are just the purges we learned about this week; more are almost certainly ongoing.

Unfortunately, news of the Georgia and Indiana polls broke too late for many in those states to do anything about it. The deadline for registration in Georgia and Indiana was October 9th.

Why does this matter?

As Bernie Sanders said “Democrats win when voter turnout is high.” Why that happens is a really complex question that goes into the minutia of American political society, but, in a general sense, Sanders is right. As Professor Michael McDonald of the University of Florida explains it, “low propensity voters tend to prefer Democratic candidates.”

Striking voters from the rolls depresses turnout in general. Add in criteria which are influenced by racial bias — say, sharing a name with a convicted felon — and those purges can be targeted against demographics which tend to vote blue. That’s exactly what’s happening and why it’s so important to stay on top of your registration. If you find out that you’ve been dropped from the voter rolls when you show up at the polls it’s often too late to do anything about it.

What can I do?

Send CHECK to Resistbot to verify your voter registration. If your registration is inactive and you live in any of the following states, as of the time of this writing, there’s still time to re-register. Resistbot can help you register too; send VOTE to get that ball rolling, but remember that most of the following deadlines are for the receipt, not postmarking, of registration.

NB: Dates marked with an asterisk (*) allow in-person registration through election day.

  • Alabama — October 22nd
  • California — October 22nd (provisional registration is allowed thereafter)
  • Colorado — October 29*
  • Connecticut — October 30
  • Delaware — October 13
  • District of Columbia — October 16*
  • Idaho — October 12*
  • Illinois — October 21 (online only)
  • Iowa — October 22 (or online by the 27th)
  • Kansas — October 16
  • Louisiana — October 16 (online only)
  • Maine — October 16*
  • Maryland — October 16
  • Massachusetts — October 17
  • Minnesota — October 16*
  • Missouri — (October 10) TODAY
  • Montana — Late registration available through November 6
  • Nebraska — October 19 (in person through October 26)
  • Nevada — October 16 in person, October 18 online
  • New Hampshire — November 6
  • New Jersey — October 16
  • New York — October 17 (October 12 online)
  • North Carolina — October 12
  • North Dakota — ND doesn’t actually have voter registration.
  • Oklahoma — October 12
  • Oregon — October 16
  • South Carolina — October 17
  • South Dakota — October 22
  • Utah — October 30 but only in person or online
  • Vermont — November 6
  • Virginia — October 15
  • Washington — October 29, but only in person
  • West Virginia — October 16
  • Wisconsin — October 17*
  • Wyoming — October 22*

What else can I do?

If your state isn’t on the above list it means that your voter registration deadline has already passed. This is dumb. If North Dakota can manage to run its entire voting system without even needing registration, Georgia and Indiana (among others) can make due with less than a month of lead time. If you think your state could stand to make registration and voting a little easier you can tell your governor as much with Resistbot. Just send the word governor to Resistbot on Facebook Messenger, Telegram, or as a Twitter direct message and the ‘bot will walk you through sending a letter to your governor’s office. If none of those work for you, Resistbot also supports old fashioned SMS: text governor to 50409 to get started. It takes 2 minutes to make a difference.

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