Voter rolls skyrocket as registration ends

Published 8:18 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

Pike County’s number of new voters skyrocketed before last week’s registration deadline, but the totals would have been even higher if some people had their way.

“A lot of people have tried to register twice,” said Chairman of the Board of Registrars Evelyn Morgan.

Morgan estimated as many as 300 local voters submitted multiple applications to register, but she said most duplicates were caught when registrars entered information into the computer system. In all, more than 1,000 applications submitted were deemed ineligible for a variety of reasons.

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Morgan said she has never seen that many duplicates in a presidential election. “(But) nothing’s typical about this one,” Morgan said. “It has been all on its own.”

Morgan said she isn’t sure if these voters were maliciously trying to register twice or if it was just an error. Some individuals would submit multiple applications with different names or addresses but leave their Social Security or driver’s license numbers the same.

Morgan said these errors are easy to catch, thanks to the computer software. “When (individuals) fill out an application, and they’ve already registered, we use it as an update,” Morgan said.

Others submitted identical applications, and those were just set aside, Morgan said.

In addition, Absentee Election Manager Audrey Milton said some people have tried to duplicate their absentee votes locally.

“We’ve had some duplicate applications, and it could be an error, but the computer catches them anyway,” Milton said.

Pike County Probate Judge Bill Stone said though people may have attempted voter fraud, the election equipment should ensure fewer flaws than ever.

“With the equipment we have now, there were some red flags, and the Board of Registrars were able to prevent voter registration fraud,” Stone said. “I think now and in the future we are going to see a more cleaned up voter list than we ever had before.”

The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election was last Friday, and voter numbers soared.

In mid-September, Pike County had 190 new registered voters. As of last week, there were more than 2,200 new eligible voters, bringing the total well above 19,000 voters in Pike County. “There were just multitudes of people,” Morgan said. “We had about 50 people come in a day last week.”