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Lawsuit: Indiana violates law on removing voters from rolls

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson hit with a lawsuit this week, claiming Indiana’s new law on removing voters from registration rolls violates federal law.

The groups that filed the suit say Indiana’s new law is discriminatory because some research has indicated minorities are more likely to be removed from this new system called cross-checking.

Hoosiers are more than a year away from the next round of state and federal elections, but voting is front and center on the minds of some activists.

“There’s a particular concern that a voter will show up at the polls only to find that the voter has been wrongly removed from the list without notice,” said Jonathan Brater, who is with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law.

Indiana’s new voting law allows the state to remove voters who pop up on another state’s registration rolls with identical first and last names along with the same birthday.

It’s part of the cross-check system in place to try to weed out Americans registered in multiple states.

The new law caught the attention of the Brennan Center.

“Even if the records match, that doesn’t necessarily mean the data is right,” Brater said. “For example the cross-check could flag someone as moving from Indiana to Illinois when in fact they had moved from Illinois to Indiana.”

The Brennan Center filed a lawsuit this week on behalf of the NAACP and League of Women Voters of Indiana.

It said the law signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in April violated a federal law, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

The organization argues the act mandates states must give notice before removing someone from the registration rolls.

The Brennan Center said a similar law passed in Virginia in 2013 and led to 17 percent of those removed from the lists to be potentially incorrect.

“We then filed this lawsuit to ensure that that process does not take place,” Brater said.

So, yes, we’re far from deciding who will serve terms in Washington, D.C. and in Indianapolis, but the Brennan Center said this issue is of utmost importance.

The Indiana Secretary of State’s office declined an interview request because of the pending litigation.

But 24-Hour News 8 obtained a copy of a letter sent by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office to the Brennan Center in July addressing some of their concerns. The office said it will be removing voters based on far more than just first name, last name and date of birth matches in multiple states.

It said there also must be exact matches in middle name and “another additional unit of data,” which it says usually is the last four digits of your Social Security number. The letter states these cases are sent to the county voter registration office to make a determination and that having a waiting period for someone who has moved is not necessary.

But again the Brennan Center is concerned some of those being removed could be incorrect.

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