Chesterton Tribune



Porter County says not to panic over voter list purge

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The Porter County Voters Registration office reported their phones being “very busy” this morning following the announcement Tuesday by the Indiana Secretary of State that over 10,000 voter registrations have been purged in Porter County.

A state issued press release said that Secretary of State Connie Lawson led the charge in getting the Indiana General Assembly to implement a comprehensive statewide voter list maintenance program, beginning in 2014.

Postcards were mailed to voters in 2014 to update voter registration records that could have contained outdated or inaccurate information. According to the release, voters who did not update outdated voter registration information had their record at that address marked as inactive.

“If inactive records were not updated or if the voter did not vote from that address at any election held in 2014, 2015, or 2016, that registration record was canceled after the November 2016 general election,” the release stated.

In all, 481,235 voter registrations have been canceled statewide of those who were identified as inactive by the 2014 voter lists. The state also gave a breakdown of how many registrations were purged in each county.

Porter County Voters Registration Democrat Director Kathy Kozuszek said 10,240 represents the number that her office has cleared off the list over the past five years or so. She told the Chesterton Tribune that “there is no need to panic” on the part of voters having their registration canceled.

In order to remove a name from the registration, there needs to be official authorization, she said. That would require notification that a voter is deceased or if a voter has moved. Kozuszek said that counties in Indiana can notify each other if a registered voter has moved to their county.

Also, a registration is good if the voter has cast a ballot in an election in the last six years, which includes two presidential elections. If it has been more than six years, they are labeled as inactive but they can be reactivated the next time they vote, said Kozuszuk.

“It’s a process that we do every day. It’s not something we do willy-nilly,” she said.

And, if the voter is registered at the address where the voter now lives, the voter list maintenance process would not affect the ability of that voter to cast a ballot, the Secretary of State’s press release said.

Kozuszek said that the number of registrations are regularly adjusted to have an accurate picture of voter turnout in Porter County. If the list was not maintained, the county could have about 600,000 registered voters, she said, which would severely skew the turnout rate. About 80,000 voted in the 2016 general election out of 126,941 registrations, for a turnout of 62 percent. If registrations totaled 600,000, that would indicate that only 13 percent voted.

Kozuszek said many voters have called her after checking their voter registration status online after finding no records of them as registered. She said that can be difficult because the information entered into the website needs to be exact. For example, if you searched under “Jimmy” as your first name, the site wouldn’t match it if you registered under your formal name like “James,” she said.

Kozuszek said she hopes the state can make it easier for voters to find their registration online. She also encourages people to register to vote when they are asked at Bureau of Motor Vehicles location as that is a good way to update their registration.

The Secretary of State’s Office said the maintenance process will continue and that another comprehensive address confirmation mailing was sent to voters throughout Indiana in 2016 to identify potentially inaccurate records for removal after the 2018 general election.

“County voter registration officials continue to do voter list maintenance work every day by updating voter registration information of voters who have moved, died or had a name change,” the release said.



Posted 4/19/2017




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