For the first time in eight years, St. Clair County officials are working to purge the voter rolls of those registered who are dead or have moved out of the county.
By state law, counties are suppose to purge voter rolls at least once every two years.
Recently appointed St. Clair County Clerk Thomas Holbrook is spearheading the effort. Holbrook said the last total purge of the county's voter rolls was completed in 2005.
Holbrook was appointed in July to fill the vacated seat of former County Clerk Bob Delaney. When reached at his home, Delaney declined to comment on why his former office had not been purging the voter rolls as it should have.
The state statute has no penalties for counties that do not follow the two-year requirement, according to Jim Tenuto with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Registered voters in St. Clair County will receive a new voter registration in the mail by the end of September. If the card has incorrect information, residents are being asked to follow the directions on the back of the card to notify county officials of the error.
"What we're hoping to get is all the people who have passed away or moved," Holbrook said. "The only good voter rolls you can have are those citizens who help keep it updated. Without citizens telling us, we don't know who has moved and who hasn't moved."
Holbrook said the biggest problem is people hang onto these cards when someone in their family has passed away or moved out.
"We need to get the people off the rolls that don't live there," Holbrook said. "The only exemption is for students studying away from home."
If the information on the card is correct, residents should just keep the card and use it in the next election.
St. Clair County residents who have not received a voter registration card by October are asked to contact the County Clerk's Office by calling 277-6600, ext. 2367.
Holbrook said the county is expected to mail more than 230,000 cards to residents, including follow-up mailings. The project is expected to cost about $150,000, with initial mailings costing more than $70,000.
The most recent comparable data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows about 95 percent of residents old enough to vote are registered to vote in St. Clair County. County voting records show 173,057 people were registered to vote in 2010, while the latest U.S. Census Bureau count found 182,375 residents old enough to vote that year. The figures exclude residents in East St. Louis.
St. Clair County handles all elections in the county except those held in East St. Louis. Excluding East St. Louis, county voting records show 164,053 people were registered to vote in the April election.
Madison County just completed a purge of their voter records in August, according to Mary Davis with the Madison County Clerk's Office, and purges the voter rolls at least every two years.
About 86 percent of residents old enough to vote were registered to do so in Madison County in 2012, according to a comparison of county voting records and Census data.
More than 179,000 voters were registered to vote in the election in November, according to Madison County voter records. The most recent Census data shows 207,877 people in Madison County were old enough to vote in 2012.
The East St. Louis Election Commission is purging its voter rolls as well, according to Commissioner Executive Director Kandrise Mosby.
"We will probably conclude it around next month and are actually in the process now," Mosby said, noting the commission has mailed out 20,092 cards to verify registered voters.
Voter purges are held in East St. Louis every two years on the odd year, Mosby said. The last purge in 2011 removed 3,294 voters from the rolls, reducing the number of registered voters from 22,266 to 18,982.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.