Harris County Voter Roll Purge

As he's required to do by state and federal law, the Harris County Voter Registrar has purged more than 200,000 names from the county's voter rolls. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell explains.

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A little over 213,000 names have been trimmed from the voter rolls, which brings the number of registered voters in Harris County down to about 1.7 million. Voter Registrar Paul Bettencourt says he has to do this every two years to weed out people who no longer live at the address on their voter registration. He says those people had a grace period, but they've run out of time.

"If you've moved or you've changed your address you could still go back to this old precinct and keep voting, but after a period of time it effectively expires. Basically you're got to update your address within four years or you'll be purged off the rolls."

As mandated by the federal Help America Vote Act, the Texas Secretary of State will follow up each county's voter roll purge in January with more checks and purges designed to keep the statewide list of voters as up to date as possible.

"They looked at what happened nationally in prior elections and realized that the voter rolls were quite frankly a mess from coast to coast. So they made each state have its own state voter registration roll, besides what happens at a county basis."

Bettencourt says people who've changed addresses in the past four years can check their voting status online at HCVoter.Net, and bring it up to date if they find their names have been purged from the rolls. He says it's easy to re-register online, or by calling his office at 713-368-VOTE. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.