If you’ve moved and haven’t voted in a while, you could be one of more than 14,000 voters in danger of being deleted from the county’s voter list.
The state is helping counties clean up voter rolls by identifying inactive voters. People on the inactive voter list meet
two criteria: They haven’t
voted in any recent elections and don’t live at the address that’s on their registration.
You might not realize you’re on the list. But if you don’t vote or don’t update your information, you might not be able to vote in future elections without re-registering. Voters have time to act, since counties won’t start deleting inactive voters from the lists until 2017.
A large number of inactive voters could be contributing to some of the county’s extremely low turnout numbers recently, Johnson County Clerk Sue Anne Misiniec said. In May, only 9 percent of voters cast ballots in the primary election, a record low for the county. In November, Johnson County had the lowest voter turnout rate of all 92 Indiana counties.
But 14 percent of Johnson
County’s 99,000 voters are on
the inactive list and would count as registered voters who didn’t cast a ballot.
Many of the precincts with a high percentage of inactive voters also had the lowest turnouts in May and November.
If invalid registrations are purged and the voter list were a more accurate representation of how many voters are actually eligible to vote in the county, turnouts would increase slightly. For example, turnout for the general election would go from 24 percent to 28 percent.
Having a more accurate voter list also could affect how the county runs elections, such as choosing where polling places are located and how many poll workers and voting machines are needed, Misiniec said.
The state sent postcards to all registered voters this summer in an effort to clean up voter rolls by canceling registrations for people who have died or moved out of the county since they registered.
When several thousand cards came back as undeliverable,
the state sent a second mailer
asking those voters to verify
their registration information with the county.
Any voters who didn’t contact the county to update their address or had addresses that were undeliverable were put on the inactive list during the summer.
Voting is the easiest way to make sure your registration remains in good standing, since poll workers are able to see if you’re on the inactive list and update your address if you’ve moved, Misiniec said.
Turnout in the fall election was low, which could explain why only 8 percent of voters identified as inactive this summer have since had their registrations updated. But since some voters only vote in the presidential elections, Misiniec thinks more people who might not realize they’re on the inactive list could get redeemed before they’re erased in 2017.
“I think it’s going to take the presidential election before we really get a good clean report and have a better feel if those people are out there somewhere,” Misiniec said.
Voters are most likely to end up on the inactive list if they moved from a previous address and failed to update their registration.
For example, if a Johnson County voter moved to another county in Indiana and didn’t register at the new address, registered in-person but didn’t indicate being previously registered somewhere else or moved out of state, the voter remains on the county’s list but isn’t eligible to vote here, said Valerie Kroeger, spokeswoman for the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office. Those are the types of registrations that are being targeted in the statewide cleanup effort, she said.
A total of 14,293 registrations in Johnson County are inactive.
Most are likely people who have moved out of the county and are no longer eligible to vote here, Misiniec said. Areas with the highest percentage of inactive voters include Greenwood Estates mobile home park and apartment complexes, such as Mission Hills, Emerald Lakes, Westminster and Polo Run in Greenwood. She said more than 40 percent of registered voters in those areas are inactive, likely because they have moved out of the county.
“Very few permanent residents in a lot of those locations, so that does not surprise me,” she said.
Rural townships have a smaller percentage of inactive voters since families move in and out less often, Misiniec said. For example, Clark Township has the lowest inactive rate, just 6 percent. Hensley Township is second-lowest at 10 percent.
Since a large percentage of voters cast ballots only in presidential years, the November 2016 election may catch a large amount of people who still live here but didn’t realize they were inactive, Misiniec said. She added she expects one of the county’s biggest turnouts ever in that election, since two new candidates will be battling for the White House.
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Here’s a look at the precincts with the highest percentage of inactive voters, meaning they have not voted recently and do not live at the address on file:
Pleasant Precinct 15: Greenwood Estates — 50 percent
Pleasant Precinct 48: Mission Hills and Emerald Lakes apartments, Villa Green — 49 percent
Pleasant Precinct 13: Westminster and Polo Run apartments — 47 percent
Pleasant Precinct 20: Area bounded by County Line Road, Interstate 65, Main Street and Five Points Road — 39 percent
Pleasant Precinct 37: Southwest of U.S. 31 and Smith Valley Road, Ashmore Trace apartments — 38 percent
SOURCE: Johnson County Voter Registration Office
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Residents who have moved within the county but not updated their voter registration may have been flagged as inactive. Inactive voters will be deleted from the voter registration list starting in 2017 if they don’t update their information. Here’s how to check your status:
Voter registration office: You can call or visit the voter registration in the Johnson County Courthouse in person, which can make sure your address is up to date.
Online: You can check the address on your voter registration online at indianavoters.com. If it’s out of date, you can update it and the county voter registration office will remove you from the inactive list.
Vote: If you vote in 2015 or 2016, poll workers will be able to see if you’re on the inactive list. If you are, they can update your information and get you removed from the list.