Over 700 University-area Democratic and Independent voters could be stricken from registration rolls this morning when the Philadelphia City Commissioners hear petitions to disqualify the voters. The petition drive, led by 27th Ward Republican Leader Matthew Wolfe, comes about two weeks before the November 6 general elections for governor and other state offices. Wolfe said his committee decided to challenge the voters in order to clean up the lists of registered voters which he described as "hopelessly out of date." The strike petitions ask that the city disqualify voters who do not reside at the address listed on their registration. Students are often hardest-hit by such drives because they move between political divisions -- some as small as the Quadrangle -- from year to year without re-registering. Since 1983, the 27th Ward Republican Committee has led several similar petition drives during general and primary elections. Kevin Vaughan, who is the 27th Ward Democratic leader, said he believes a high percentage of the challenged voters are students. The hearing's outcome depends on how closely the commissioners decide to scrutinize the cases and if the Democrats challenge the petitions. Vaughan said yesterday that he would attend the hearing. Wolfe said that Republican Ward Committee members collect the names while they canvass areas to register voters. "It's kind of simple," Wolfe said. "I think everybody knows that when you move you have to register to vote." But Vaughan called the move "voter intimidation." He said Republicans are using a "loophole" in election laws to remove students from the rolls. "It's clearly a partisan effort to disenfranchise people who don't vote their way," Vaughan said. "It's a low and loathsome thing they do." "No one can tell me they're doing this out of the kindness of their hearts," Vaughan said. He also said he supports "universal registration." Voters would present adequate identification at the ballot box where they would register before they vote. Several states already have implemented the system. But Wharton junior Tex Roper, who is vice chairperson of the 27th Ward Republican Committee, said yesterday that the law was meant to be used "exactly as we're using it" to help the city update its voter registration rolls. "I think that the Democrats ought to stop whining and see if they can actually go out and find some live bodies instead of ghost voters to put on the rolls," Roper said. College Democrats President Michael Berman, a College sophomore, called such charges "ludicrous." Vaughan echoed Berman's sentiments. "This area does not have a history of people trying to vote twice or trying to vote dead relatives," Vaughan said. Voters who believe they are being challenged can go to this morning's hearing and contest the petitions. Wolfe said committee members serve notice of the challenge at the old registration address. Those voters who find on November 6 that their registration has been canceled can seek special registration at Election Court. People who registered this fall at their current addresses should not be affected by the petitions. But registration for this fall's election ended almost two weeks ago.Comments powered by Disqus
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