Federal database should be used to cleanse voter rolls

It's important to make sure only eligible voters cast ballots.

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Voters must be U.S. citizens. This is not an option for states, nor should it be.

Yet, determining a potential voters' legal status was not always easy because states did not have access to federal databases. That began to change last week when the federal government agreed to give Florida access to its immigration database to verify eligibility. This week the federal government went further to expand access to all states.

Washington state has been requesting the data since back to the Bush administration, The Associated Press reported. Shane Hamlin, the co-director of elections in Washington state, said officials aren't getting full access to the database that they had sought but are pleased with the development.

To check against the database, states will have to provide a "unique identifier," such as an "alien number," for each person in question. Alien numbers generally are assigned to foreigners living in the country legally, often with visas or other permits such as green cards, AP reports.

Ultimately, a U.S. judge blocked federal attempts to stop Florida's use of the database for voter review. The federal government then relented.

On Monday, Homeland Security Department representatives offered similar access to other states that had been requesting the information.

"I'm pleased that (Homeland Security) has agreed to work with states to verify the citizenship of people on the voter rolls and help reduce our vulnerability," said Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, who had taken the lead in seeking access by all states.

This seems a victory for all citizens, as this move will make it easier for states to cleanse voter rolls of some ineligible people. It's a start.

But it's too bad it's taken a legal battle -- as well as extensive political huffing and puffing -- to get to this point.

The original fight took place in Florida where Democrats were trying to block access to the database while Republicans favored it. Presumably each side saw a political advantage to their positions.

The political posturing is absurd.

Voter qualification is not a partisan issue. One would think that every citizen -- regardless of their political party affiliation or political leanings -- would expect only eligible people to vote in elections.


Election letters deadline July 30

Letters regarding the Aug. 7 primary must have been received by the Union-Bulletin by noon on July 30 in order to be printed prior to election day.

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