Report shows voter rolls need cleaned up

Published 8:59 am Monday, November 20, 2017

Jokes about who shows up at the voting polls in rural parts of Kentucky and all of Appalachia have persisted for years.

There are lots of variations but go something like: “Voting is so important I did it twice” or “One of the best places to campaign around here is the cemetery.” Although these are clear exaggerations about individuals being able to cast multiple ballots or the deceased still casting a vote, there is some truth to the fact that Kentucky’s voter rolls need serious attention.

Recent analysis by our online media partner Kentucky Today found that 38 of Kentucky’s 120 counties have more people registered to vote than they have residents who are of legal age to cast a ballot.

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Clark County has 27,679 voting-age residents but has 28,253 registered voters.

The discrepancies were analyzed by comparing the latest voter rolls with population data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The variances were found across the state, in urban and rural counties.

It is not an easy problem to fix. The decision to remove ineligible voters from the rolls is made at the state level, not by county clerks.

While having 574 more voters than is mathematically possible may sound like a minor issue, getting this data corrected is very important.

“The Pew Center on the States found in 2012 that the nation’s voter registration system was ‘plagued with errors and inefficiencies that waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections,’” according to the Kentucky Today report.

“The review found that approximately 24 million voter registrations across the country were no longer valid or significantly inaccurate, that more than 1.8 million dead people were still listed as voters, and that about 2.7 million people have registrations in more than one state.”

The impact of this cannot be overstated as it creates even more controversy about the validity of election results, the potential for fraud and efforts to suppress some segments of voters.

The challenge is to remove people who have died, been convicted of felonies, or moved out of state.

Improvements have been made in recent years, both here and across the country. More work is needed.

According to Kentucky Today, “Kentucky is among about 30 states that participate in what’s known as the Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which helps to identify who may be registered to vote in more than one state.”

It is time to create a national voter registration that could more easily identify these problems everywhere.

Every vote counts but we must do everything possible to assure the public that each and every one is legitimate.