Virginia elections commissioner responds to voter suppression claims

Jeremy Lazarus | 12/22/2017, 3:06 p.m.
The commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections agrees there is plenty of reason to criticize Crosscheck, an interstate data ...

A report from Mr. Cortés’ department shows that, in 2014, 265,990 people who were registered to vote in Virginia were mailed address confirmation notices based on information from the NCoA. Of that, 72 percent, or 192,451 people, were moved from active to inactive status for failing to respond or update their address information.

That’s more than four times the number of Virginia voters impacted by Crosscheck in 2013.

Virginia also matches its data with at least 10 other states and the District of Columbia through the Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC.

Mr. Cortés agrees with Mr. Flowers and Mr. Palast that ERIC “provides much more sophisticated data,” but he also noted that most of the states participating in ERIC do not participate in Crosscheck.

He said the state and local registrars also use other resources to maintain the registration list.

For example, Virginia State Police provides a list of people convicted of felonies that bar them from voting to state officials and local voter registrars so their names can be removed from the voter registration list.

State vital records and Social Security Administration information on deaths also is matched with voter registration records, Mr. Cortés noted, so the names of people who have died can be removed.

Mr. Cortés said he is working currently with the state Department of Motor Vehicles to ensure his department receives the list of people who have surrendered Virginia driver’s licenses because they have obtained a new license in another state.

The department also secures government information on immigrants to ensure that non-citizens who submit a voter registration card are removed from the state’s rolls.

Courts also provide information to the department about people adjudicated as mentally incapacitated.

Mr. Cortés supports the use of electronic records to provide an efficient method of maintaining voter records. He chairs the ERIC board and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Standards Board, which assists the independent, bipartisan commission with carrying out its mandates under federal law.