Monday, July 27, 2009

Fayette County Voter Rolls to Remain Bloated

Voter Removal Process (purge) of ineligibles may not happen in Fayette for some 2 or 3 years... awaiting news of current events, in particular an appeal filed in the Court of Common Pleas of PA... by our reading of applicable federal and PA state election laws, the county registration commission is obligated to provide an accurate voter registry, annually, culling the voter registration records of any and all ineligibles, that is deceased, and non-residents, and have a program to determine the status of individuals who have moved in the county and out of the county.

Caution is in order, however, to not remove the names of voters solely for the reason of "not having voted."

More findings coming... here's a good one, from back a while...

Census: `Motor voter law' inflates numbers

In Fayette County, a 1997 scandal over absentee ballots raised questions about registration numbers. A grand jury investigation that followed concluded with a report speculating that at least 10 percent of the registered voters were either dead or resided elsewhere.

However, when Fayette officials conducted an investigation last year at the grand jury's recommendation, they found only 190 names that could be purged from the rolls - 10 who had died and 180 who had moved out of state. Another 1,300 names were placed in an inactive file after letters came back with notations that forwarding addresses had expired.

Laurie Nicholson, director of Fayette County's Election Bureau, said those names can be purged if the individuals fail to vote in two consecutive federal elections.

She said statistics that show 72 percent of Fayette's voting-age population as registered voters are as accurate a representation as possible under the motor voter law.

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.

Don't become confused by the 2009 dates referencing the Fayette purge has begun.

A full review of the voter database for the county is not happening. (One never did in the past either, even though there's a line item in the 2006 Budget Report for 'Voter Registration Purge' there isn't a dollar figure by the item

It's a wonder that it is legal for the county to have sent out some 9,000 postcards - how was this number determined? What information was used to get to that number, and what year was used?

For an adequate and truly fair voter removal program of "ineligibles" - postcards should have been sent out to all 91,382 registered voters. A follow-up of problematic non-returns or returned undeliverable, etc. would be the only way to determine whether many such registered have moved, are deceased, or potentially are alive and well but exercise their right to be both registered on the county's books, AND simply not vote as a protest.

I know if I'd chosen that route, not voting as a protest, and received a notice my name may be removed if I didn't respond to a mailing, I'd be hopping mad that I had to confirm my voting right status to a bunch of elected officials who I had chosen not to vote for any of the above by abstaining from appearing at the precinct to vote or cast an absentee ballot.

We'll be placing former letters sent to boards of commissioners off-site for review.

March 2008 Letter with links provided to entire board of Fayette County Commissioners

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Fayette postpones purging 25,000 voters
By Mary Pickels
Friday, August 8, 2008

Buzz up!

A Fayette County voter purge that was to begin earlier this week has been postponed, the director of the election bureau said Thursday.
"We're going to do it after the (fall) election," Laurie Lint said. "The time constraints were too close. I didn't want to start and not complete it."

The postponement did not sit well with Commissioner Vincent Vicites, who said the purge had been discussed at a May board meeting.

"I'm disappointed it's not being done," Vicites said yesterday.

"We need to make sure our rolls are as accurate as possible. This is probably the most important election cycle in the last four years."

Vicites said Lint was to have a plan ready to present for board approval at the June meeting.

"That did not happen," he said. "I wanted her to move forward on it. The point I'm making is I brought it up in plenty of time.

"Now we have to do it next spring. I will remain fervent about getting it accomplished."

On July 24, the commissioners agreed to authorize the purge, which would have notified as many as 25,000 inactive voters.

At that meeting, Lint said the mailing process had to have been completed by Wednesday, within 90 days of the fall election.

"Can we do it by that date?" Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky asked at the meeting. "Let's not pursue it unless we're 100 percent sure."

Zapotosky and Vicites both said they considered the purge among their top priorities.

Yesterday, Zapotosky said when he spoke with Lint more than a week ago, she could not give him a 100 percent guarantee of meeting the deadline.

"That kind of triggered putting a stop to it," he said. "Laurie made the call. I gave her the opportunity to decide whether we should or should not.

"I don't hold her responsible. I think she made a good decision."

Lint said efforts were made to meet Wednesday's deadline.

"It just didn't work out," she said. "It wasn't feasible for me to get it done and postmarked and out of here by the 6th."

Lint said her greatest concern was getting the materials she needed in time.

"I couldn't be guaranteed I would have all of my supplies in here and out on time -- printed, folded, presorted and stuffed," she said.

When the purge takes place, voters who wish to remain on the rolls will be asked to return notices in postage-paid envelopes provided by the county.

Purge of inactive Fayette voters delayed
By Jennifer Harr, Herald-Standard August 09, 2008

A purge of about 25,000 Fayette County voters who have failed to show up at the polls in five years has been delayed until after the November election.
Laurie Lint, director of the Fayette County Elect...

Dormant Fayette voters may be purged
By Liz Zemba
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Fayette County Election Bureau has identified as many as 25,000 registered voters who have not cast ballots in at least five years, putting them at risk of having their names purged from voter rolls.
Laurie Lint, election bureau director, said Tuesday a check of voter registrations turned up between 15,000 and 25,000 people who have not voted in the past five years. Lint conducted the review as the first step in a countywide purge of voter rolls...

Dormant Fayette voters may be purged
By Liz Zemba
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
County commissioners on Thursday will vote on authorization of the next step, which is to mail out notices to each of the inactive voters. Voters who want to remain on the rolls will be asked to return the notices in postage-paid envelopes to be provided by the county.

Voters who don't respond can still vote in November, should they go to the polls, Lint said.

Inactive voters who fail to respond to the notices, and then subsequently do not vote in November, will have their names purged from the county's voter rolls...

Dormant Fayette voters may be purged
By Liz Zemba
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The county last purged its voter rolls in 1995, when the Motor Voter Law was enacted. Prior to 1995, the county purged its voter database every year, removing the names of voters who did not go to the polls in four consecutive elections, Lint said.

Lint said she used data provided by the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, or SURE, to identify voters who have not cast ballots in the past five years. The SURE system notifies each of the state's 67 election bureaus when voters die, move or register in another county.

There are 89,536 registered voters in Fayette County, including 61,887 Democrats and 21,449 Republicans, according to Lint. Voter turnout in the primary election was 42 percent.

Cost for the mailings will be approximately $20,000, Lint said, including $6,500 in postage to send out the notices using the standard bulk rate of 26 cents per mailing. Another $10,500 will be spent on postage for the return envelopes, Lint said, because they are ineligible for the bulk rate.


Precinct consolidation plan stalled
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard

Lint also told the commissioners she has plans to send out 25,000 notices to voters as part of a voter purge program prior to the November election. She said the biggest obstacle is having a postage-paid envelope and a bulk rate must be reinstated for the county. Lint said the cost of reinstating the bulk rate would cost $180, but if that were done, it would save $3,000 overall.

Lint said the purge is estimated to cost about $20,000, which includes sending letters that can be sent back in. She said if people vote in the next election they will remain on the rolls, and if they don't respond and don't vote, they would be purged.

The commissioners took no action on the request, but Lint said in response to a question from Vicites that the vote could be taken at next month's meeting to initiate the purge.

clip from wind watch

The commissioners also will act today on proposals to enact a voter purge as well as initiate a pay study for all non-union county employees.

Last month, all three commissioners voted to support a voter purge. Zimmerlink said in May 2006 the county mailed out 21,142 letters to registered voters, informing them of the new voting system, which led to removing more than 1,000 names.

Zimmerlink said the open issue is how to fund the purge.

Vicites said the purge should be completed before the November election, adding that he initially pushed to have it placed on the agenda.

“We need to move forward. We have identified funding,” Vicites said. “The voter purge is the top priority in the election bureau in my opinion.”

Zapotosky said money from the sale of some of the county’s electronic voting machines could be used to pay for the purge. He said the only outstanding issue is to ensure the county follows federal requirements regarding when the purge can be done.

All three commissioners have talked about the need for a pay study to address pay inequities in various departments where union employees are making close to or more than non-union management employees.

The agenda item calls for advertising for professional services under the request for qualification to conduct a pay scale study for the current staff complement of non-union employees.

Vicites said the pay study is something the county needs to carry out. He said it is a step-by-step process and it has to be properly budgeted.

Judge Conrad Capuzzi and Michelle Grant Shumar, head of the Fayette County Office of Human and Community Services and Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation, have separately raised the issue at county salary board meetings.

If the motions are approved today, the commissioners will vote to take action on them during Thursday’s monthly meeting.

By Amy Zalar


22 July 2008

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