More than 13,400 residents have been removed or suspended so far in the ongoing purge of voter rolls in St. Clair County, according to County Clerk Tom Holbrook.
Holbrook, who was appointed to the post in July, said this is the first time in eight years a total purge of the rolls has been undertaken. The purge is expected to cost about $200,000.
The county has decreased the number of registered voters from 163,282 to 149,830 since the purge began. Madison County completed a purge of voter records in August, and the East St. Louis Election Commission is currently purging its rolls as well.
Nearly 8,900 voters registrations were suspended because new registrations mailed to their homes were returned as undeliverable. More than 4,500 voter registrations were removed from the rolls because they moved out of the county or died.
An additional 4,759 voters changed their addresses and will soon be mailed a new voter identification card. Those voters will be suspended from the rolls as well unless they update their voter registration.
The suspended voters can still cast a federal ballot in the next election. Federal law states a suspended voter is removed from the voter rolls after not voting in at least one of the next two federal elections, Holbrook said.
Holbrook said the purge is following the "spirit and letter of the law" and county officials have been working with the Illinois State Board of Elections to ensure that end.
"This is a work in progress and I want to thank the U.S. Postal System and the Illinois State Board of Elections for guiding us through the state and federal rules, and also my dedicated staff for working through this Herculean effort to provide the citizens of St. Clair County an updated voter file," Holbrook said.
Rupert Borgsmiller, executive director of the Illinois State Board of Elections, said all residents should be happy the purge will make the voter rolls as accurate as possible before the March primary.
"County clerks do other things than run elections. To be able to stay on top of things we are here for them to rely on if they have any questions," Borgsmiller said. "Mr. Holbrook has had many conversations with our staff checking with us almost at every turn making sure everything they do complies with the (federal Voting Rights Act)."
Six staff members of the County Clerk's Office and four workers hired temporarily are sorting, scanning and updating the voter rolls as thousands of voter registration cards are returned to the office, according to Election Supervisor Laura Kaemmerer. Each of the updated voter registrations must be scanned electronically to store digitally as well.
Holbrook said the temporary workers make it possible for the purge to be completed before petitions are filed between Nov. 25 and Dec. 2. The purge will involve about 250,000 pieces of mail.
Without the temporary workers, the purge would continue beyond the next election, Holbrook said.
For more information about the purge, contact the County Clerk's Office by calling 277-6600, ext. 2367.
Contact reporter Daniel Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2501.