States removed 17 million from voter rolls in past two years, federal report finds

States struck more than 17 million people from their voter rolls between the 2016 and 2018 elections, according to a report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released Thursday.

The figure is about 2.5 million more voters than were removed from 2013 to 2014 under the National Voting Rights Act.

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The law requires states to allow increased voting and registration opportunities as well as to continually update voting rolls. Under the act, reasons for removal from state voter rolls include not voting, moving to different voting districts, death, criminal convictions or a finding of “mental incapacity.”

“While election administration across the nation is largely decentralized, this report allows us to better understand election frameworks and operations in each state and most localities,” Nichelle Williams, EAC director of research and leader of the biennial survey, said in a statement.

“It also depicts election administration trends over time, such as the increased usage of electronic poll books and increased rates of early in-person voting,” she added.

The report found that about 52 percent of the estimated voting age population, or more than 120 million people, voted in 2018, a 15-point increase from the 2014 midterms. The figures echoed some state data which found turnout nearing that associated with presidential elections. Midterm elections generally have lower turnout rates than presidential elections.

The EAC also found nearly 80 million voter registration applications were received between the 2016 and 2018 elections, and more than 211 million people were reported as registered and eligible to vote in the 2018 midterms, an increase of more than 10 percent compared with the 2014 midterm elections.

The report comes after numerous states were found to have engaged in illegal voter roll purges in a separate report released last year. According to data from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, four states including Florida, New York, North Carolina and Virginia engaged in such purges since 2013, while another four implemented purge rules deemed "unlawful."