Pharos-Tribune

Breaking News

Local News

July 15, 2012

Indiana voter rolls coming under scrutiny

LOGANSPORT — Retired state Supreme Court Justice Ted Boehm didn’t have to read the recent Pew Center on the States report on bloated voter registration rolls to know Indiana has a problem.

For 20 years, Boehm and his wife lived in the same house and voted at the same address in elections up to the 2011 primary. During that entire span, the names of the couple who sold their house to the Boehms back in 1991 and then moved to Texas remained on the voter roll as well, listed as active voters at the very same address they’d vacated years ago.

Boehm is a Democrat who cast the sole dissenting vote against Indiana’s voter identification law when it was challenged in the state’s high court two years ago.

The voter ID law was hailed by its Republican champions as a way to prevent voter fraud. But Boehm believes having error-filled voter rolls is much more problematic.

Past cases of voter fraud in Indiana haven’t involved people showing up at the polls impersonating someone else, he said. Instead, they’ve involved absentee ballots, which don’t require an ID, cast for voters who are dead or have moved away.

“I don't think voter fraud is a big problem in Indiana,” Boehm said. “But if you're really concerned about it, that's the place to look.”

Boehm isn’t alone in his concern about the state’s voter rolls. Indiana faces both an inquiry from the U.S. Justice Department and a lawsuit from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch on

the issue.

Each has raised questions about whether state and county election officials are complying with a federal law that requires voter rolls to be cleansed of the names of people who are ineligible to vote

because they’ve died or have moved away.

The Justice Department says at 10 percent of Indiana’s 92 counties have a higher number people on their active voter rolls than they do who are old enough to vote. Judicial Watch claims the problem is

more widespread.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson acknowledged the state and county elections officials find it challenging and costly to keep voter rolls current. The same law that requires accurate voter rolls, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also makes it harder for county election officials to remove voter names.

They need a death certificate or notice from the state health department to take a deceased person’s name off the roll, for example. They have to wait for a voter to miss two presidential elections before they can start the process of verifying whether that voter is still at the address where he or she registered.

“It’s not an easy process,” Lawson said. “And no one wants to disenfranchise a voter by removing them from the (voter registration) roll too quickly.”

Lawson declined to comment on the Judicial Watch lawsuit, but she’s clearly sensitive to the issue: She was appointed to the job only four months ago, after her predecessor, Charlie White, was convicted on election fraud charges of using his old address to cast his vote, after moving someplace else.

Error-laden voter registration rolls aren’t just a problem in Indiana. In February, the non-partisan Pew Center on the States released a report that said the nation’s voter registration rolls are in deep disarray. Pew researchers, using information collected from states’ voter rolls, found that one in eight active registrations is invalid or inaccurate.

That includes about 1.8 million people listed as active voters who are dead, and another 2.8 million people with active registrations in more than one state.

In releasing the report, Pew officials said they didn't believe bad voter rolls were an indicator of widespread voter fraud. But they did find them worrisome.

David Becker, director of election initiatives at the Pew Center, said error-laden voter rolls “waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our

elections.” 

Andrew Downs, a political scientist and the director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, concurs. “Anything that contributes to the potential for fraud that is unaddressed undermines voter confidence.”

There may be no easy fix. Cleaning the voter registration roll is both expensive and fraught with political peril.

The State of Florida is engaged in a bitter battle over efforts to purge its voter rolls of an estimated 180,000 voters whose citizenship status is in question. Critics, including Justice Department lawyers, contend the purge is based on outdated information and disproportionately targets voters with Hispanic surnames.

Democrats charge Florida’s Republican-led purge is a nefarious attempt to disenfranchise voters who are likely to vote Democratic.

Indiana has been here before. In 2006, the U.S. Justice Department, under Republican President George Bush, pushed the state’s Election Commission into signing a consent decree in which the state agreed to work with county officials to clean up Indiana voter registration rolls. The consent decree also required the state to provide annual reports to the Justice Department, explaining how the state was keeping those rolls clean.

But that consent decree expired in 2009.

Depending on what happens with the Justice Department inquiry and the Judicial Watch lawsuit, the Indiana General Assembly may be forced to take up the issue in the next session. Lawson said it will take about $2 million for the state to purge its voter registration rolls of invalid registrations; that's money that will likely have to be appropriated by the legislature.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • One dead, one seriously injured in crash on Division Road

    A Logansport man was killed and another was seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash Monday on Division Road.

    July 22, 2014

  • NWS-PT072214 Western Wildfires.jpg Local volunteer to help wildfire victims A Flora resident will be among the volunteers helping those affected by the wildfires in Washington State.Pat Rinehart was scheduled to fly out of Indianapolis International Airport Monday afternoon and join fellow American Red Cross volunteers at th

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-PT072214 Lauren Ray.jpg Logansport graduate makes a go at Hollywood “Instincta,” the latest film by a 2008 Logansport High School graduate, will be screened at the Gen Con Indy Film Festival in Indianapolis in August.It is an action, thriller cop drama short film, starring Logansport native Lauren Zehner Ray, Michael

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • EDU-PT072314 whitley lehr.jpg School's top honor goes to local grad Whitley Lehr chose Indiana University Kokomo because of its excellent School of Nursing. Receiving the campus’ most prestigious scholarships sealed the deal for each of her. The 18-year-old Delphi student called the Herbert Scholarship “a huge blessi

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • NWS-PT072214-Gwin3-BCM Landis Elementary teacher back from China experience Steve Gwin has hundreds of pictures already on his new laptop, just months after buying it. He spent the month of June in China teaching to kids at two schools and chronicled about each adventure.Gwin teaches first grade at Landis Elementary and got

    July 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Four injured when motorcycles collide Four people were injured Sunday when a motorcycle rear-ended another motorcycle. The accident occurred at 4:06 p.m. Sunday on the ramp from U.S. 35 North at U.S. 24, according to Cass County Sheriff Deputy Brad Craven. Riding a 2012 Harley-Davidson,

    July 21, 2014

  • Police Blotter: July 21, 2014 Have a tip? Anyone with information on a crime is encouraged to call Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS. Information leading to an arrest or conviction could lead to a reward of up to $1,000.

    July 21, 2014

  • NWS-PT072014 Corn2.jpg Bumper crop? Corn farmers hopeful that good weather lasts Several Cass County corn farmers say they may see record-breaking harvests this fall thanks to “perfect” weather during the spring growing and summer pollination periods.“I think it’s going to be one of the best crops we’ve ever harvested,” southern

    July 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • Monticello puts cardboard to the test MONTICELLO — Lori Abbott has been collecting pieces of cardboard for months now, in anticipation of the Monticello Rotary Club Cardboard Boat Regatta.“After work, I go home and work on the boat,” Abbott said.The second annual cardboard boat race is h

    July 21, 2014

  • BIZ-PT072014 kesling 3D scanner.jpg Fitting in: Kesling's acquires 3-D scanner It’s like something out of Star Trek.You set your foot onto a glass pane. A small camera runs on a track around the pane, aimed all the while at the sole of your foot. And after about 15 seconds, the camera sends a 3-D image of your foot through the

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
More pharostribune.com
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

The Pence administration continues to cut Indiana agency budgets despite a state surplus of $2 billion. Is this wise management of state funds?

Yes
No
Not sure
     View Results
eEdition