ACLU complains of voter purges by Secretary of State Mark Martin | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

ACLU complains of voter purges by Secretary of State Mark Martin

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2016 at 4:04 PM

click to enlarge MARK MARTIN: ACLU criticizes him for voter purge. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • MARK MARTIN: ACLU criticizes him for voter purge.
The ACLU of Arkansas today accused Secretary of State Mark Martin of violations of the National Voter Registration Act and lack of transparency concerning 7,000 voters flagged for removal from voter rolls based on faulty information.

This is a continuation of the monumental snafu in which Martin sent county clerks names drawn from an Arkansas Crime Information Center list that might be ineligible to vote. The list was badly flawed. Some clerks made efforts to determine which were correct or not.

But the ACLU said Martin had failed to adequately notify county officials and failed to provide the ACLU and public with adequate information about any voter purges.

Said the release:

The ACLU’s letter to the SOS serves as notice of NVRA violations and provides the Secretary of State an opportunity to cure the problems.

The letter asks that the Secretary of State: (1) cease and desist sharing flawed data facilitating removal or disfranchisement of electors from the state’s voter registration list; (2) ensure the unlawfully purged voters are restored to the rolls and will have any votes cast counted and (3) produce records requested pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act and the public disclosure provisions of the NVRA.

“If you cannot vote in this year’s historic Presidential election because of the Secretary of State’s errors, you will lose a right that can never be restored,” said executive director Rita Sklar, “because you will never be able to vote in this election again. Adding insult to injury, the Secretary of State’s office has not notified the flagged voters and has refused to identify these voters so others can help them get their vote back.” 

We learned in June that the ACIC list included names of people who'd never had criminal charges, had non-disqualifying misdemeanor records, had been charged but never convicted or had completed sentences for felonies and had rights restored. Despite this, the information went to 75 county clerks flagged by the secretary of state as ineligible. Martin never told clerks this was a new source of data and contained information dating back to the 1970s. Said the release:

County clerks in Arkansas have undertaken ad hoc and non-uniform and in some cases monumental efforts in response to receipt of this flawed data and in restoring the rights of voters in their respective counties. The Secretary has not provided the county clerks or county boards of election commissioners with updated, accurate information regarding these flagged voters, notified voters of the error, or taken steps to ensure a uniform, lawful, statewide restoration of voters wrongfully removed.
The ACLU of Arkansas supports the national non-profit, non-partisan Election Protection hotlines 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) and 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682), ACLU of Arkansas legal director Holly Dickson said voters should seek help if they encounter problems and not leave a poll without casting a provisional ballot.

The ACLU  has helped numerous voters get their votes back including through communications with Arkansas country clerks.

I've sought a response from Martin's office.

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