To Purge or Not to Purge For Incorrect Information

Two Knoxville legislators debated Tuesday whether incorrect information on a voter registration form should lead to the voter being purged from voter roles.
As introduced by Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, HB376 would permit county election commissioners make “random” checks of new voter forms for accuracy. Current law requires that they review all new forms.
But Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville, proposed to amend the measure to also allow purging of voters who put false information on their forms or leave a question blank, such as those asking whether the voter is a U.S. citizen or a convicted felon.
That brought a protest from Rep. Harry Tindell, D-Knoxville, who said “innocent mistakes of a clerical nature” – should not be punished by purging. He gave examples such as transposing figures on a Social Security number or forgetting to put a check a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question.

Current law says that, once election officials have accepted a registration, it cannot be revoked or purged unless the voter has “knowingly” been deceitful or committed fraud.
A House State and Local Government Committee vote was postponed for a week. Dunn and Tindell continued to debate after the meeting, saying they were trying to find some compromise language that would be acceptable to everyone.

The House committee did give unanimous approval to another bill by Haynes. HB377 would block purging of a person’s name because of a name change that comes about because of divorce.
Current law allows a voter to continue voting after a name change based on marriage, but doesn’t cover divorces.
Haynes said both bills – though not Dunn’s amendment — were suggested by Knox County Election Administrator Greg Mackay and members of the county election commission.

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