Tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law, according to a review of state records and Social Security data by the New York Times.
The actions do not appear to be coordinated by one party or the other, nor do they appear to be the result of election officials intentionally breaking rules, but are apparently the result of mistakes in the handling of the registrations and voter files as the states tried to comply with a 2002 federal law, intended to overhaul the way elections are run.
Still, because Democrats have been more aggressive at registering new voters this year, any heightened screening of new applications may affect their party's supporters disproportionately.
States have been trying to follow the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and remove the names of voters who should no longer be listed; but for every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records shows.
The six swing states appear to be in violation of federal law in two ways. Michigan and Colorado seem to be removing voters from the rolls within 90 days of a federal election, and Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio seem to be improperly using Social Security data to verify registration applications for new voters. Under federal law, election officials are supposed to use the Social Security database to check a registration application only as a last resort.
Elections officials in several states disputed that any voters were illegally removed from rolls. Michigan elections director Chris Thomas said the state removed only people who have died, notified authorities of a move or who were declared unfit to vote, which is well within the parameters of the law. Thomas said only 11,000 voters were removed from Michigan rolls in August -- not 33,000, the figure cited by the New York Times.
The New York Times and Associated Press contributed to this report.