28,000 voter registrations 'cancelled' in St. Joseph Co.

Published: Feb. 8, 2018 at 5:06 PM EST
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The next election could be full of surprises. Not necessarily those associated with counting the ballots--but casting them.

“It is my belief that it is a large number of people that will try to come out and vote this year, and will find out on Election Day that they’re no longer allowed to vote,” said Jason Critchlow, Chairman of the St. Joseph County Democratic Party.

Some 481,000 voter registration forms were ‘cancelled’ or tossed out last year across the State of Indiana. About 50,000 of them were in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties combined.

While it’s presumed the forms belonged to people who moved, died, or had a name change, the fear is some belonged to folks who just weren’t paying attention.

The first potential pitfall in the voter registration purging process is that it was carried out entirely through snail mail.

“It was a post card that people would get in the mail and it would ask you if you were still currently residing at that address, and if you didn't return it back, you got two (additional) mailings sent to you and then if you didn't respond to those, then you were considered a cancelled voter,” explained Arielle Brandy, Democratic Party member of the St. Joseph County Voter Registration Board.

In St. Joseph County alone some 28,000 people who failed to respond to the post cards and failed to cast a ballot in the past two general elections lost their voting privileges at the polls in the purge at a time when folks are arguably more focused on phoning things in.

“There are lots of people out there that received this post card in the mail, didn't think it was something that that they didn't look at it they didn't pay attention close to it. My generation, it's a cultural thing it's a generational thing, you know my generation, I can't remember the last time I sent a piece of actual mail from my house, actually put a stamp on something,” said Critchlow.

Since Indiana law requires to register a full 30 days before an election Critchlow fears people pinched in the purge won’t discover their sidelined status until it’s too late. “It is my belief that it is a large number of people that will try to come out and vote this year, and will find out on Election Day that they're no longer allowed to vote.”

Checking your voter registration status online is quick and easy at:

Indiana’s 2018 Primary Election will take place on May 8th and the deadline to register to vote is April 9th.

St. Joseph County Democrats have obtained a list of the people who were purged and plan to go door to door to offer to re-register them in March.

One of the reasons for cleaning up the voter registration rolls is to get a clearer picture of voter turnout. Some have long complained that there are a lot of people on the voter registration rolls who have since moved elsewhere and are skewing the stats.

For instance, Indiana had a 58 percent voter turnout in November 2016, which was eighth lowest in the nation.

When the figure is adjusted with post purge data, the turnout rises to 65 percent and ranks as the 16th highest in the nation.

The purge is also being challenged in federal court in a civil suit filed by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters.