While it’s a non-election year in Indiana, counties across the state have taken action to clean up voter registration lists.
The Indiana Election Commission set a deadline of March 10 to remove inactive voters, who have not voted since 2014.
Vigo County purged inactive voters on March 7. The county cut its voter registration list 10.5 percent — 7,960 voters — resulting in the county’s voter registration dipping to 71,558 from 79,518.
“We knew we had a lot of voters who no longer live here,” said Robert Lawson Jr., co-director of the Vigo County Voter Registration department.
Terre Haute is unique, Lawson said, as it is home to several colleges and universities - Indiana State University, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Ivy Tech Community College, St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and Harrison College.
College towns are often “where people move in and people move on,” Lawson said.
Some “people vote one time and never vote again after registering and move away, but never remove their name from the poll list,” Lawson said. Most often, he said, it is college students registering to vote in a presidential election.
Cleaning up the state’s voter registration lists stems from action from two voter watchdog groups, Judicial Watch and True The Vote, which sued Indiana in 2012, claiming the state failed to maintain clean voter registration lists. Their lawsuit was dropped in June 2014 after the Indiana General Assembly approved changes to election laws.
Indiana started a program to send postcards to voters, with a goal to identify outdated and inaccurate voter registration information. In 2014, the Indiana Secretary of State’s office reported it identified 731,585 voting records that needed updating or were not longer valid.
County voter registration polls in the Wabash Valley have been reduced from more than 8 percent to more than 19 percent.
Sullivan County purged 1,316 voters, a 9.2 percent drop. The county’s registered voter list dropped to 13,581 from 14,897, according to the county clerk’s office.
Clay County purged 1,581 registered voters, dipping to 18,103 from 19,684, a 8.3 percent drop, the Clay County clerk’s office reports.
Parke County purged 2,188 registered voters, a 19.6 percent drop in voter registration. The county dipped to 10,045 registered voters from 12,233. The county purged its voter registration on March 17, after the March 10 deadline, said Parke County Clerk Stacie Jeffries.
“I am a new clerk and we have a part-time election clerk. This was new to me, so the state called and said we needed to do this, so that is why we were later,” Jeffries said.
Jeffries was appointed as county clerk through a Republican party caucus after former clerk Diana Hazlett decided to retire from the elected office. Hazlett was to leave office at the end of February, but her last day was Jan. 18.
“I am just glad it is not an election year,” Jeffries said.
Vermillion County purged 13.2 percent of voter registration list, with 1,183 voters. Registered voters fell to 9,138 from 10,321.
“Those number have changed since we did that in March. We have added voters since than, so that poll list number has changed,” said Vermillion County Clerk Amy Griffin.
Vermillion County as of Tuesday had increased its voter registration list to 9,384 registered voters, with 24 pending applications, Goodman said.
Each county reported voter registration numbers were up since the March 10 deadline to purge inactive voters due to new voter registrations. “We register people to vote everyday,” Griffin said.
Hoosiers can register to vote online at www.indianavoters.com. Voters may also visit their county clerk’s office or any branch of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles to register to vote or update their voter registration.