Competing priorities, election-year grandstanding stoke voter registration battle

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KHOU-11’s Mark Greenblatt has been reporting on voter registration issues in Harris County.

Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector and Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt comes under fire from Greenblatt and Dem pols for allegedly over-aggressive efforts to purge voter rolls of illegitimate voters (resulting in some legitimate voters apparently being rejected). Bettencourt’s past assertions of “ironclad” cases of voter fraud are also subject to criticism. What is not clear from the reporting is how the number of legitimate registrations that have been rejected compares to the number of legitimate registrations struck from voter rolls in other counties. Since we will never be able fully to remove human error from human activities, it would be helpful to know the numbers of errors made elsewhere compared to here (which might then help us to judge knowledgeably if a more systematic problem is at work, which is suggested by the reporting). These probably aren’t easy numbers to gather, but they would be helpful to know.

Partisans on both sides have legitimate points. On the one hand, everyone who is eligible to vote in our elections should be able to register to do so with minimal hassle. On the other hand, it’s not unreasonable to take some steps to prevent illegitimate voters from participating in our elections. With a big election at hand (underway even, since early voting has begun), we’ll probably continue to see passionate arguments over these sometimes-competing priorities (maybe even in our forums — please do try to keep it civil).

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Kevin Whited is co-founder and publisher of blogHOUSTON. Follow him on twitter: @PubliusTX