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Twelve ... Ineligible Voters? Jury Excusal Forms Becoming Popular Tool to Clean Rolls

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[Image courtesy of apublicdefender]

In many communities, voter rolls are used as part of the database for calls to jury duty. Recently, the relationship between the jury box and the voting booth has been significant in the other direction as well.

Albemarle County (Charlottesville), VA is one of the latest jurisdictions to use jury excusal forms as material for a check of the voter list. According to NewsPlex:

The Albemarle County Electoral Board wants to clean up its voter rolls, but it's not happening without some controversy.

"This is not the time to be complacent and think, 'Oh, everything's OK,' when someone's vote is at stake," said Clara Belle Wheeler, a member of the Albemarle County Electoral Board.

Wheeler is behind the push to purge the county's list of ineligible voters. This spring, she and fellow electoral board member Alan Swinger submitted a court order to sift through 450 excused jury questionnaires to match them with voter records.

...

In a letter to the State Board of Elections last week, Wheeler outlined the results of the comparison. The local board found 159 discrepancies in Albemarle County. Six were non-citizens, three were felons, two were deceased and 148 had relocated.

Of the six non-citizens registered, the commonwealth's attorney is looking into just four cases of potential voter fraud. The other instances may have been a matter of filling out the questionnaire incorrectly or became American citizens and thus registered voters after filling out the questionnaire.

The three felons on the list registered to vote before being convicted of a crime and have not voted since.

The Albemarle program mirrors similar efforts elsewhere across the country. Florida's controversial non-citizen purge was in part a reaction to a local TV station report showing that some individuals who had used lack of citizenship as an excuse from jury duty were registered voters. Another group in Wake County (Durham), NC recently used jury forms to challenge the eligibility of over 500 voters.

Efforts like these - as frustrating as they may be for election officials and jury administrators - are yet another example of efforts to use new data sources to broaden the knowledge base for election administration, and especially voter registration.

If nothing else, the growing popularity of these comparisons should be a helpful reminder that our communities take elections AND jury service very seriously - and that any efforts to deceive with regard to one or both could come with very serious consequences.

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