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For immediate release
April 4, 2000

Contact: Deborah Phillips (888) 578-4343

Voting Integrity Project Releases Report on Pilot Voter Registration Cleanup Program

Washington, D.C. The Voting Integrity Project ("VIP") released its Preliminary Report on a pilot project to "clean up" voter registration records in Fayette County, Pennsylvania and Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. The report was released at the Voting Integrity 2000 annual conference in Washington, D.C.

At its awards ceremony, VIP also recognized the Fayette County citizen, Sondra Cesarino, responsible for identifying an absentee ballot fraud scheme that resulted in three election fraud convictions earlier this year, including that of former U.S. Congressman Austin Murphy. Cesarino received VIP's Fred Scheigert Award for her role in the Fayette County absentee ballot fraud case.

The VIP report detailed efforts begun last year at the request of a citizen group in North Carolina and at the unanimous request of the Fayette County Commission in Pennsylvania. In both instances VIP was asked to provide data matching services free of charge in order to identify duplicate, "deadwood" and potentially fraudulent registrations on voter rolls. Identification and removal of such voters is difficult, and can be cost prohibitive for smaller communities.

VIP performed a data match of the voter rolls in both jurisdictions against lists supplied by the U.S. Postal Service National Change of Address and other data, but did not match against death records or felony records. Nonetheless, between 8.6% and 20.6% of the total registrants' were flagged for some reason.

In a related story, VIP announced it had entered into an agreement with DBT Online, Inc., of Boca Raton, Florida, to identify small communities with demonstrated need for similar pro bono voter rolls "scrubbing." DBT is the company tasked with helping Florida clean up the State's voter registration records following the disastrous Miami mayoral election of 1997 when over 5,000 fraudulent absentee ballots wrongfully changed the outcome of that race. The election was overturned by the courts, but public confidence was not restored until Florida cleansed its records.

Deborah Phillips, President of The Voting Integrity Project, said that their pilot study demonstrated just how difficult and expensive it can be to perform a thorough "scrub" of election rolls. "We spent thousands of dollars and were still unable to obtain some lists we felt were critical to the task. However, even with the limited matching we performed, there was clear indication that many questionable records are resident on voter rolls in both jurisdictions."

The goal of the Atlantic Beach project was to match the resort community's records against other North Carolina county rolls for duplicate voter registrations. In Fayette County, the goal was broader, to identify any record that might be subject to legal removal from the rolls by Fayette County Election Officials.

Phillips stressed, "The identification and removal of deadwood or fraudulent records is a multi-step process involving legal notification by Election Officials to the voter in questions. The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and state election laws strictly limit the ability of election officials to remove questionable names. That is why VIP advocates use of the data by citizens in certified poll watching programs, where voters presenting themselves either in person or through mail in ballots may be challenged on the basis of identity or residence. Only with the data supplied through such matches does a citizen poll watcher have the probable cause' to legally challenge such questionable voters."

Phillips also pointed out that the service which DBT Online will be supplying is on a case by case basis and limited to jurisdictions under 100,000 voters, where VIP has identified an election fraud problem, the jurisdiction can document that it does not have the resources to conduct a through scrub of its own voter rolls, and the needed data is supplied in an approved format.

"We are grateful for DBT's generosity in agreeing to help small communities beleaguered with corrupted data bases cleanse their records in order to protect election integrity. We look forward to working in collaboration with DBT on this important program."

VIP is a national non-partisan non-profit voter rights organization dedicated to educating and equipping citizens to protect election integrity in their own communities.

A copy of the VIP Report and the DBT/VIP agreement is available upon request.

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