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23 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 483 (1988)
The Purging of Empowerment: Voter Purge Laws and the Voting Rights Act

handle is hein.journals/hcrcl23 and id is 493 raw text is: THE PURGING OF EMPOWERMENT: VOTER PURGE
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have statutes
which authorize election authorities to purge the names of voters
from registration lists. Although these laws are aimed at reduc-
ing the opportunity for vote fraud by identifying unqualified
voters, they in fact often remove large numbers of qualified
registrants from voting rolls. In addition, these laws place the
burden of reregistration squarely on the purged party.' In so
doing, purge laws potentially thwart political participation and
place a particularly disproportionate burden on minority voters.
The discriminatory impact of these laws becomes clear when
examined within the sociopolitical context of their application
to black Americans, a historically disenfranchised and econom-
ically deprived minority group.
Part I of this Comment begins by examining the history and
impact of voting discrimination against black Americans. Part
II of this Comment then analyzes current state purge laws and
argues that election laws should shift the burden of reregistration
from the purged individual to the state or political subdivision
conducting the purge.
Part III examines purge procedures currently used by
states. Part IV then argues that many of these procedures violate
the express terms of the statute authorizing the purge, Section
2 and Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act,2 and the equal protec-
tion clause and the due process clause of the fourteenth
While various congressional initiatives, including the 1982
amendments to the Voting Rights Act,3 were passed to eliminate
I See infra text accompanying notes 34-39. The burden of reregistration encom-
passes activities required by a voter to place her name back on the registration rolls.
These activities do not always require formal reregistration. As will be discussed in Part
III of this Comment, a voter may be placed back on the registration lists if she completes
various reinstatement procedures, or, in the case of private challenges, if she completes
response requirements. See text accompanying notes 118-33, 141-48. Nonetheless,
reinstatement and response procedures are often quite burdensome to a voter. This
burden should be placed upon the state.
2 42 U.S.C. § 1973, Pub. L. 97-205 (1982); 42 U.S.C. § 1973c, Pub. L. 94-73 (1981).
3 42 U.S.C. § 1973, Pub. L. 97-205 (1982).

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