Disputed Voter Purge in Indiana

by Vins
Published: Updated:

In October 2018, Greg Palast reported that as many as 20,000 voters may have been purged from Indiana’s electoral rolls, “some apparently in violation of a federal court order.” According to the Palast Investigative Fund, “thousands of voters” were purged, in violation of a June 2018 federal court order that barred Indiana officials from using the “notorious” Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program to purge voters.

The Crosscheck program—which Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, a Republican, introduced in 2005—purports to  identify voters who may have registered or voted in two or more states. In 2016 Rolling Stone published an article by Palast that showed how Crosscheck “disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters.” Palast’s 2016 Rolling Stone article noted that two crucial swing states with tight Senate races, Ohio and North Carolina, were the sites of some of the biggest Crosscheck purges.

In July 2017, Snopes reported, the Indiana legislature passed Indiana Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 442, which allowed counties to immediately cancel a voter’s registration, without notifying the voter, once officials received information through Crosscheck that indicated the voter may have moved. However, Snopes reported, in June 2018 US District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled that the Indiana law violated the National Voter Registration Act.

In response to Palast’s charge of a voter purge, Valerie Warycha, a spokesperson for Indiana’s secretary of state, told Snopes that, “This story is not true. Indiana did not participate in Crosscheck this year.”

In October 2018, PolitiFact published a story that disputed Palast’s claims. PolitiFact acknowledged that Indiana had removed voters from its rolls—but “not in violation of a federal court order.” According to PolitiFact, the June 2018 district court ruling “stopped the law from going into effect.” But, “The state has appealed” the injunction, and a “final ruling will not be made until after the election.”

Sources:

Greg Palast, “Indiana Caught Illegally Purging 20,000 Voters- Are You One?” Greg Palast, October 9, 2018, https://www.gregpalast.com/indiana-caught-illegally-purging-20000-voters-are-you-one/

Bethania Palmma, “Indiana State Officials Accused of Violating Court Order by Improperly Purging Voters” Snopes, October 18, 2018, https://www.snopes.com/news/2018/10/15/indiana-state-officials-accused-violating-court-order-improperly-purging-voters/

Student Researcher: Danielle Garcia (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)