Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

May 19, 2013

State to spend $2 million to clean up voter rolls

Lack of funds has caused counties trouble in past.

Indianapolis — Indiana’s bloated voter registration rolls, which officials say make elections more susceptible to fraud, will soon come under more scrutiny by the state.

The Indiana Secretary of State’s office will spend more than $2 million to purge the voter registration rolls in each of Indiana’s 92 counties, removing the names of voters who are dead, in prison, or have moved away.

County election officials are responsible for keeping the voter rolls current, but the lack of money has caused some of them to fall behind. The result: in some counties, the number of people listed on the active voter rolls is higher than the number of voting-age people who live there.

“Every duplicate name and every bad address is just an opportunity for vote fraud,” said Secretary of State Connie Lawson, who asked the General Assembly to let the state take over the maintenance of the voter rolls. It’s not a simple effort; the Secretary of State’s office will have to send out at least two mass mailings of postcards to Indiana voters as part of a sweeping effort to verify their voting status.  

The legislature was pushed into taking action by the U.S. Department of Justice. Officials with the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section found that at least 10 percent of Indiana’s 92 counties have a higher number people on their active voter rolls than they do who are old enough to vote.

Also triggering the legislative action is an ongoing federal lawsuit, brought by a conservative watchdog group, Judicial Watch, which claims the problem is more widespread.

Both the DOJ and Judicial Watch have raised questions about whether Indiana has failed to maintain clean voter registration lists as required by the National Voter Registration Act.  

DOJ officials have declined to comment on their investigation of Indiana’s voter rolls. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, said his lawsuit will continue until his organization is satisfied that the State of Indiana is meeting the federal requirements for keeping the voter registration rolls current.

“We’ll have to review what the state has proposed,” Fitton said. “This doesn’t automatically end the lawsuit.”

Indiana has a history with the issue. In 2006, the U.S. Justice Department pushed the Indiana Election Commission into signing a consent decree in which the state agreed to work with county officials to clean up Indiana voter registration rolls.

But that consent decree expired in 2009.

Indiana maintains a statewide voter registry, but each county is responsible for updating information on the voters in their county. Lawson said county elections officials find it challenging and costly to keep their voter rolls current.

“The counties have so many demands on their dollars these days,” Lawson said. “Everybody is struggling for every dollar. It’s easy for a county to say, ‘This is one job we’ll have to put off till we’ve got more money in bank.”

The same law that requires accurate voter rolls, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also makes it harder for county election officials to remove voter names, Lawson said.

They need a death certificate or notice from the state health department to take a deceased person’s name off the roll, for example. They have to wait for a voter to miss two presidential elections before they can start the process of verifying whether that voter is still at the address where he or she registered.

“No one wants to disenfranchise a voter by removing them too quickly,” Lawson said.

Lawson is sensitive to the issue of election fraud and concerns about voters having confidence in the system. There have been several high-profile criminal cases over the last year involving people who’ve had significant influence over voter rolls and the election process.

In April, former Democratic campaign consultant Mike Marshall was sentenced to three counts of voter fraud in Jennings County related to charges that he tampered with absentee ballots. Also in April, a longtime Democratic Party county chairman, Butch Morgan, was found guilty of forging voters’ signatures on petitions to place Democratic candidates on the state primary ballot in 2008

And Lawson was appointed to her job , as Secretary of State, after her Republican predecessor, Charlie White, was convicted on voter fraud charges related to him using his old address to cast his vote, after moving someplace else.  

Bloated voter registration rolls aren’t just a problem in Indiana. In February 2012, the non-partisan Pew Center on the States released a report that said the nation’s voter registration rolls are in deep disarray. Pew researchers, using information collected from states’ voter rolls, found that one in eight active registrations is invalid or inaccurate.

The Pew report found about 1.8 million people listed as active voters who are dead, and another 2.8 million people with active registrations in more than one state.

In releasing the report, Pew officials said they didn’t believe bad voter rolls were an indicator of widespread voter fraud. But they did the bloated rolls undermined voter confidence and fueled partisan disputes over the integrity of the election process.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers in Indiana. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

For more on this story and other local news, subscribe to The Kokomo Tribune eEdition, or our print edition

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • NWS-FloodFollowDay2-15.jpg April flood brought people together to bail out community

    [Editor’s note: On April 19, 2013, a record flood hit Howard and Tipton counties. Today, we look at some of the financial aspects of the flood. In Sunday’s edition, look for stories about people who were affected, what has changed in the floodplains and how the communities are moving forward.]

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-KT041914-TwoinjuredinMiamiCocrash-CLG-pic.jpeg Two injured in Miami County crash

    PERU — Two people were injured Thursday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of U.S. 24 and Ind. 19.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Farmer loses seat belt fight on appeal

    Denver-area farmer Thomas Fox doesn’t like to wear his seat belt.
    But after his lengthy fight with the Indiana courts over a seat belt violation, Fox may be rethinking his stance.

    April 19, 2014

  • NSC establishes number of transfers

    Northwestern School Corp. has decided how many transfer students the district can accept next school year in compliance with the state's relatively new open enrollment law. This is the first time Northwestern has announced vacancies at each grade lev

    April 19, 2014

  • Kokomo man heading to 'Hoosier Millionaire' finale Rick Rhodes is still having a hard time believing his good fortune. On Thursday, the 53-year-old Kokomo man walked away with $13,500 after beating out five other contestants on the “Hoosier Millionaire” live road show in Fort Wayne. “I’m still in sho

    April 18, 2014

  • Dual Credit classes KACC 02 Dual credits give high school students head start on college More area students are enrolling in dual credit classes as a way to get an early start on their college degrees and prepare for the rigor of higher education while still in high school. In the past five years, the number of college credits earned by

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos

  • Email, Internet knocked out at Miami Co. Courthouse PERU -- Basic government services were put on hold for the second time in nearly two months in Miami County after a massive server failure once again knocked out Internet and email access in most departments and offices. The crash hit early last week

    April 18, 2014

  • Early voting underway in Miami Co. PERU -- Miami County officials are reminding residents that early voting is now open for the primary election. Early voting started April 8 and will end May 5, one day before Election Day. Early voting is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every weekday at t

    April 18, 2014

  • Jackson Street Commons veterans home grand opening set for May 22 Jackson Street Commons, a home for veterans near downtown Kokomo, will host a grand opening May 22. The new $3.6 million facility, located at 322 E. Jackson St., provides permanent housing to 27 previously homeless veterans, said Judy Dennis, executi

    April 18, 2014

  • YMCA nearing design phase completion Development and design of the new 73,000 square foot YMCA should be completed in the next 30 days, YMCA of Kokomo Executive Director David Dubois told the Kokomo Common Council Monday. Dubois said he hopes to begin construction on the new facility by

    April 18, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries