Friday, February 27, 2009

Voter Purge to Reveal Deceased and More

One unmentioned feature of a purge, names of voters who have been found to be deceased, or moved out of the county or state, are removed.

Watchdogs must also watch out for any other ineligibles, as it appears any voters who skipped the last federal elections - 5 years - have another 5 years to remain before names are removed. That doesn't sound right, but would be par for how elections are conducted in this country.

Every effort it appears is made to maintain as inaccurate a voter database as is possible.

Net the Truth Online

Fayette County on Thursday initiated a long-awaited purge of its voter-registration rolls.

Laurie Lint, election bureau director, said her department began mailing out notices to some 9,000 inactive voters yesterday. The figure represents nearly 10 percent of the county's 91,382 registered voters.

County commissioners last summer discussed conducting the purge, but it was delayed until after the November election because of time constraints. Vince Zapotosky, chairman of the board of commissioners, attributed more recent delays to technical problems with the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, or SURE.

Operated by the state, SURE notifies the state's 67 election bureaus when voters die, move or register in another county. Zapotosky said the county worked with the State Department to resolve problems with the system, allowing Fayette to move forward with purging its voter-registration rolls.

Lint said the 9,000 voters who will receive letters have had no election-related activity in five years. Such activity includes voting or making changes to addresses or party registration.

Individuals who receive the letters will be asked to contact the election bureau. If they do not, and then fail to vote in the next two federal elections, their registrations will be purged.

That means affected voters who fail to respond to the notices in time for this year's spring primary will still be permitted to vote, Lint said.

In the past, Fayette purged its voter rolls every two years. Lint said that stopped in 1995, when new rules were introduced with the passage of the Motor Voter Law.

Zapotosky said purging the voter rolls will give voters and candidates an accurate understanding of issues such as party dominance.

Of the county's current 91,382 registered voters, Lint said 62,880 are Democrats and 21,929 are Republicans. The balance, or 6,573, are independents.

Fayette commissioners disagree on need for election board meeting
By Amy Revak, Herald-Standard
Fayette County Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink is asking for a meeting of the Fayette County Election Board to address some issues before the May primary, but her fellow commissioners don't believe such a meeting is needed.

Commission Chairman Vincent Zapotosky said Thursday that he doesn't believe an election board meeting is the proper venue to discuss the majority of the topics Zimmerlink is raising, and they instead should be discussed at a commissioners meeting.

Zapotosky said he believes after consulting with assistant county solicitor Sheryl Heid that only two out of nine potential agenda items - poll consolidation and training of poll workers - could fall under the purview of the election board. However, he said Laurie Lint, director of the Fayette County Election Bureau, has already been directed to perform both.

"There's no reason to have an election board meeting. There's no issue that's pending," Zapotosky said.

The election board is comprised of the three commissioners.

All nine issues that Zimmerlink listed include: the status of poll consolidation; the status of the voter purge; to review issues of the SURE (Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors) system; the concern of Brownsville residents regarding Election Day workers having family members on the ballot; the status of a request of Michael Merkosky to change a boundary line in North Union Township; the review of polling place regulations on Election Day; the review of compensation of Election Day workers and the number at each poll; the review of any issues which arose last election which need addressed; and setting up training for judges of elections specific to their Election Day duties.

"We need a public meeting, I don't care what you call it. We need to make sure we are on the same page and moving appropriately," Zimmerlink said. "I think we need to do this within the next week and have an evening meeting to allow public to attend."

Zimmerlink said she doesn't want to wait until the commissioners' March 26 meeting to discuss the issues. She said any action, such as changing of a polling place, could be placed on the March commissioners meeting agenda.

Zapotosky said, specifically, the Brownsville issue has been addressed by Heid, who said the election board couldn't interfere with elected poll workers.

As far as the status of the voter purge, Zapotosky said it is under way.

A voter purge is done to remove the names of registered voters who have died, moved away or not voted for a specific number of elections as a way to more accurately reflect the number of registered voters that are in a county. A total of 25,000 letters are being sent out in anticipation of inputting all the information into the system by the April 20 deadline.

"They are folding and stuffing envelopes as we speak," Zapotosky said. "We are finalizing to be in compliance with federal law to clean up voter rolls. We're doing the job."

Zapotosky said regarding potential poll consolidation, he would be "more than delighted to set up an informational meeting" to discuss the issue.

"I would be more than willing have a public meeting on poll consolidation but the other stuff falls at the feet of the county commissioners," Zapotosky said.

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