Firming up registration rolls in advance of the election

By Alex Davis |

Published 01/15 2014 12:47PM

Updated 01/15 2014 12:51PM

ILLINOIS -- Counties in the state are preparing for the upcoming primary and general elections. One way they've been getting organized is by clearing out old voter names. WCIA-3's Alex Davis explains why the process could take awhile.

Keeping an accurate count of registered voters in a county is important, but I can be an endless task; especially when there's a surplus of registered voters.

"You may have a lot of people on your rolls who are no longer residing in your county or maybe have passed away."

By law, county clerks are required to purge voter rolls every two years by sending out new voter registration cards. If the information is wrong, it's supposed to be returned, but that doesn't always happen.

"When we did our last show cause, about ten percent of the voters' ID cards were returned as undeliverable. And when we followed up on those, about five percent of them ended up coming off the rolls."

The State Board of Elections says 2010 census data shows at least a dozen Illinois' counties reported more registered voters than the number of voters who were of legal voting age. Some were because they hadn't conducted a purge in years.

Another reason they may be behind?

"Money is a factor. It cost somewhere between fifty cents to 75-cents per voter to conduct a purge."

That can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for cash-strapped counties, which is the case for some in Southern Illinois.

"They did not have the money to conduct a purge."

But, despite all the setbacks and hangups, the State Board of Elections believes its methods are working.

"We're satisfied. Of course, you can always make it better, but I think that the numbers do truly reflect, and like I said, I think the numbers that we have in the voter rolls themselves are very accurate."

The last time Sangamon County purged was the summer of 2012. Leaders there plan to do it again before the November election.

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