Bill to scrub voter rolls based on jury excuses clears House
Bill pitched as a common sense defense against voter fraud, but Democrats predict it will remove innocent citizens from state's voting rolls.Posted — Updated
Senate Bill 250 was pitched by Republican supporters as a way to combat voter fraud. Democrats against the bill said it was unnecessary and sure to snare innocent people.
The vote was party line, 55-49.
Under the bill, clerks of court would forward the elections board the names of people who get out of jury duty by saying they're not U.S. citizens. Those names would be published online, and election officials, the bill states, "shall use this information to conduct efforts to remove names from its list of registered voters."
An investigation into the state’s 2016 election found that, out of more than 5 million votes cast, only 41 were cast by non-citizens, and most of those were green card holders who thought they could vote.
Several Democrats argued that some U.S. citizens probably lie to get out of jury duty, checking a box that says they're not citizens on a form that doesn't always require a sworn statement. There's also the possibility of mistaken identity.
Cleveland said the information needs to be public so voter challenges can be undertaken by citizen watchdogs. But there’s no federal database of registered citizens to check voters against, so voters would have to take action to prove their citizenship.
"There’s a challenge done in a very systematic way, so nobody is going to get removed from the voter rolls unless they can prove that he is not a citizen or she is not a citizen," he said.
But Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, said even the State Board of Elections has voiced concerns that voter records are required to be confidential under federal law.
"The outcome is you’re removed, and not only are you removed, your name is on a public record. That can lead to harassment. That can lead to identity theft," Morey said.
For the other 83 matches, the State Board of Elections documented that the people in question were legal voters using information from the state Division of Motor Vehicles and other sources.
This new bill is "going to disenfranchise a lot of eligible voters," Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Guilford, said Wednesday.
The measure moves to the Senate for more debate. It seems likely Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, would veto the bill if it gets to his desk, but the governor's press office would say Wednesday only that Cooper would review it.
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