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VOTERS, REGISTRATION OF;

OLR Research Report


REMOVAL OF VOTERS FROM THE VOTER REGISTRY LIST

By: Kristin Sullivan, Chief Analyst

ISSUE

Describe the reasons for which registrars of voters remove a name from a town's voter registry list and the procedures they must follow when doing so.

SUMMARY

Registrars of voters in each town maintain a registry list that has two components: an active list and an inactive list. Electors on either are permitted to vote. Generally, registrars remove a name from a registry list when they (1) have information that an elector has died, been incarcerated for a felony conviction, or confirmed in writing that he or she has moved out of town or (2) receive notice of a registration cancellation or duplicate registration.

If registrars receive other information indicating that an elector moved out of town, they send an address confirmation notice. If the elector does not return it confirming his or her town residence, the registrars move the name to the inactive list. By law, when an elector's name is placed on the inactive list, it remains there for four years. If after four years there is no indication (such as an attempt to vote) that the individual remains a town resident, then the registrars must remove the name from the registry list.

Once the registry list is corrected and complete, registrars post the names of all the electors who were removed. They also maintain an ongoing list of changes using the statewide centralized voter registration system (CVRS).

By law, an individual aggrieved by the registrars' decision to remove his or her name from the registry list may appeal to the town board for admission of electors. An individual aggrieved by the board's decision may appeal to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (CGS 9-31l).

COMPLETING THE VOTER REGISTRY LIST

The law requires registrars of voters to hold a session on the Tuesday of the fifth week before each regular election to complete a correct list of electors. The complete list consists of an active and an inactive registry list; electors on either are permitted to vote. (Electors on the inactive list must submit a new voter registration application before voting, unless the name was placed there through a clerical error.)

At the session, and on any day except on the day of an election or primary, the registrars must remove from the list the names of electors who have (1) confirmed in writing that they have moved out of the municipality, (2) been incarcerated for a felony conviction, or (3) died (CGS 9-35).

Removal Pursuant to a Written Confirmation

Registrars remove the names of electors from the list who confirm in writing that they no longer reside in the municipality. An elector is deemed to have “confirmed in writing” that he or she moved out of the municipality if:

1. the elector returns a Notice of Canvass card indicating that he or she moved;

2. he or she submits a change of address form (a) for a state driver's license, unless the elector states on the form that the change of address is not for voter registration purposes, or (b) to a voter registration agency, which the agency provides to the registrars; or

3. the registrars receive a cancellation of previous registration from another election official indicating that the elector is registered outside the municipality.

Canvass of Electors. One of the main ways that registrars of voters gather information about electors' residency and eligibility to remain on the registry list is by conducting an annual canvass of voters, which the law requires them to do between January 1 and May 1. (Registrars in municipalities holding May municipal elections are not required to conduct a canvass in odd-numbered years.) Registrars may conduct the canvass by door-to-door canvassing, mail or the U.S. Postal Service's National Change of Address (NCOA) system, telephone, or a combination of these methods (CGS 9-32 and Conn. Agencies Regs. 9-32-1 to 9-32-9).

If the registrars conduct the canvass by mail, they must send each elector a Notice of Canvass card. They must remove an individual's name without further notification if the individual returns the card indicating that he or she has moved out of the town.

A December 2015 memorandum from the secretary of the state provides more information on the canvass and Confirmation of Voting Residence.

State Agency Change of Address Form. When an elector submits a change of address form to the Department of Motor Vehicles or a voter registration agency, the agency must notify the registrars in the town where the individual previously resided. The registrars must remove the individual's name from the list and, using forwardable mail, send to either the former or new address (1) a notice of removal, (2) information explaining how to have one's name restored to the list, and (3) a mail-in voter registration form for registering in the new town. If the materials are sent to the former address and returned as undeliverable, the registrars must mail them to the new address (CGS 9-19i and 9-35(c)).

By law, a “voter registration agency” is a (1) public assistance office, (2) state office that primarily provides services to people with disabilities, (3) public library, or (4) other office designated by the secretary of the state in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) (CGS 9-23n).

Cancellation from New Place of Residence. The registrars must remove a name from the list when they receive a Notice of Cancellation of Previous Registration from another election official indicating that the elector has registered to vote in another town. Similarly, when the secretary of the state receives notice that an individual has registered in another state or U.S. territory, she must forward the name to the registrars in the town where the individual formerly resided, and they must remove it from their list (CGS 9-21 and 9-35(b)).

Transfer to the Inactive List in Absence of Written Confirmation

If the registrars have reason to believe that an elector moved but do not have written confirmation of the move, they must send a Confirmation of Voting Residence notice by forwardable mail with a prepaid, preaddressed return card. If the individual returns the card and confirms in writing that he or she no longer resides in the municipality, the registrars remove the name from the registry list. If the registrars do not receive the return card within 30 days after mailing it, or if it is returned as undeliverable, they put the individual's name on the inactive list. Registrars must keep a duplicate copy of the notice or a record of it with the date it was mailed.

Registrars send a Confirmation of Voting Residence notice to determine whether an elector has moved if:

1. they receive information from the NCOA system or from the canvass that an elector has moved out of town or

2. the Notice of Acceptance for a Mail-in Voter Registration Card is returned as undeliverable (CGS 9-35(e)).

Removal Pursuant to a Felony Conviction

Each month, the correction commissioner must send the secretary of the state a list of individuals who were convicted of a felony and committed to state custody during the preceding month. The list includes the individuals' names, addresses, birth dates, dates of conviction, and crimes committed. The secretary must send the list to the registrars in all the towns where (1) the individuals lived at the time of their conviction and (2) she believes they may be registered to vote. Pursuant to the NVRA, the secretary's office also receives from the U.S. attorney the names of those convicted of felonies in federal courts and forwards that information to the appropriate registrars (52 USC 20507(g)). After sending a written notice by certified mail to an individual's last known address, the registrars must remove the name from the registry list (CGS 9-45).

Removal Following Death

Registrars of vital statistics (i.e., town clerks) must send registrars of voters a death notice for each resident age 17 or older who dies (CGS 7-42). The registrars must remove these names from the registry list (CGS 9-35(b)).

OTHER REMOVAL PROCEDURES

Relinquishment of Registration

Except during the period between the last session for the admission of electors before an election (i.e., the seventh day before) and the day following the election, an individual who wants to relinquish his or her electoral rights may submit a signed application for removal. Upon receiving an application, registrars must remove the individual's name from the registry list. Such an individual may reapply for admission at a later time without prejudice (CGS 9-35b).

Challenge for Nonresidence

When the registrars are unable to agree on whether to remove a name because one of them claims that the individual no longer lives in the town, they must notify the individual by registered or certified mail that his or her voter registration has been challenged. The registrars must put the name on the inactive list unless the individual applies for retention by the seventh day before the next regular election or primary. If the individual applies for retention and either registrar certifies that he or she believes the residency claim, the individual's name remains on the active list; otherwise, it is moved to the inactive list. Registrars may not use this challenge procedure in the five weeks before a regular election (CGS 9-43).

Duplicate Registration

The law authorizes the secretary of the state to search the CVRS for possible duplicate registrations and send a compiled list of town results to the appropriate registrars. (According to the secretary's office, this search is conducted about once a year.)

Upon receiving a list, registrars may investigate further to determine if any individual registered to vote in their town is also registered elsewhere. If they determine an individual is registered elsewhere, they must send a Notice of Duplicate Registration to the individual stating that he or she has 30 days to confirm that he or she is still entitled to remain on that town's list. If the individual does not meet that deadline, and both registrars agree that he or she subsequently registered in another town, they must remove the name from their list (CGS 9-21a).

Failure to Vote by Members of the Armed Forces

State law requires registrars to contact electors who (1) are members of the armed forces, and their spouses or dependents, and (2) have not voted in at least one election, primary, referendum, or town meeting during the prior four calendar years. If the elector does not return the Confirmation of Voting Residence within 30 days, the registrars must put the name on the inactive list (CGS 9-40a).

POSTING AND MAINTAINING CHANGES TO THE LIST

After the session to complete the voter registry list on the Tuesday of the fifth week before a regular election, registrars must post in town hall the list of names they removed, along with the individuals' addresses as they appeared on the list. They must also post a statement specifying when and where they will be available to provide complete information on each removal and the procedures necessary for restoration (CGS 9-35a).

In addition, registrars must compile a public list of the changes to the active and inactive registry lists. The CVRS enables registrars to maintain this information on an ongoing basis (CGS 9-50a and -50b).

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