CHARLESTON (AP) — There are more registered voters in Boone and Lincoln counties than adult residents and county and state election officials are working to correct these disparities.
State and census records show that Boone County had 19,096 registered voters in 2010, compared to 19,004 residents age 18 or older. Lincoln County had 19,595 registered voters, compared to 16,790 adult residents.
The Charleston Daily Mail reports that Boone County election officials mailed about 9,100 cards this week to voters who haven’t recently cast ballots or may have moved. A similar effort is planned in Lincoln County.
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant said county officials are responsible for tracking voter deaths and people who move or are imprisoned. But she said tracking people who move is not easy.
County officials have to send letters to voters who they suspect have moved. The voters can be put on inactive status if they do not reply and their registration can be cancelled if they do not vote after four years. Voters can become active again if they vote in one of the next two general elections after the letters are sent.
About 7,000 voters in Lincoln County already had been moved to the inactive list. But former County Clerk Donald Whitten did not give voters an opportunity to return a card so their registration would remain active. Most of the affected voters have been returned to the active list.
“I won’t say it was completely wrong — they made an attempt, although they didn’t understand the absolute law, the correct law,” said Layna Valentine-Brown, an elections official in Tennant’s office.
Whitten pleaded guilty earlier this year to obstructing a federal investigation into irregularities in the 2010 Democratic primary and resigned his position.
A group called Judicial Watch has threatened to sue if the counties do not correct the voter disparities.
Myrl Gue, who replaced Whitten as Lincoln County clerk, said he hopes that Judicial Watch will look at his office’s efforts and not sue.
“I hope they would take into consideration where it was at and the amount of work we’ve taken to get back to where it should be,” he said.
Tennant’s office is helping the counties update their voter rolls.