SPRINGFIELD - In two of Illinois' least populated counties on the state's southernmost Kentucky border, more than 4000 were recently culled from registered voter lists. Time has run out for any more pre-2012 election cleanup, but state election officials are pleased with the progress that's been made.
“Having good, clean election rolls avoids any possibility of people attempting impersonation voting,” said Ken Menzel, an attorney with the Illinois State Board of Elections, told Illinois Watchdog.org. “While it’s not a huge problem from what we can tell, keeping your rolls clean limits the opportunity for mischief along that line.”
So-called "voter purges" are causing uproar in Texas and Florida, where election observers assert purges could prevent qualified voters from exercising their constitutional right to vote.
Eyebrows are raised over the more than 4000 registered voters that were removed from Alexander County, where the population is a little over 8000 and Massac County, around 15,500.
And then the inevitable question - what about the state's most populous Cook County, where over 5 million people live? How "clean" are their voter rolls?
Nowhere near as dirty as Alexander or Massac counties', evidently.
Cook County's method of purging involves sending voter registration cards to the county's voters, normally during off-election years. Those living in the households that recognize voters registered but no longer living at that address are asked to return those registration cards marked "return to sender," and the County Clerk's staff removes those names from the rolls.
Illinois Review asked Cook County Clerk David Orr's office when the last voter purge went on in Cook County, and what the purging results were.
"We did a canvass this past summer. About 85,000 voters were moved to inactive status. Another 15,000 were cancelled," Orr's press spokesman Courtney Greve said.
That's 100,000 voters removed from rolls where as of September 27, 1,365,448 voters are registered in suburban Cook County (eliminating Chicago city proper).
There's a considerable discrepency comparing 4000 voters cleansed in two southern counties where population adds up to 23,000, to 100,000 voters cleansed in one county with a population of over 5 million.
Still, things are not as busy at the Cook County Board of Elections this year as they were in 2008, Greve said.
"That number of new registrations is about 8,000 fewer than at the same point (2 weeks before end of registration) in 2008," she said. "We had 1,436,210 total voters by Election Day in ’08. We’ve processed about 33,000 registrations since Sept. 1. Of those, 40-45% are new voter registrations and
the rest are voters updating their address or name (newlyweds)."
Voter purges not only help to hold the line on voter fraud, they help keep down costs associated with running elections. Clean voter rolls mean precinct officials have a better idea of how many voters to expect, how many ballots to print, how many machines to have on hand and how many election judges to pay, the IllnoisWatchdog.org writes.
Still, the 4000 in far southern Illinois compared to 100,000 in Cook County is notable.