Why so many voters?
- Published: May 19, 2011
In last week’s special election, 1,088 local voters went to the polls out of 3,462 total registered voters in Yellow Springs, a turnout of 31 percent. But according to the 2010 Census, the village has a total adult population of only 2,799. How can the village have more registered voters than adults eligible to vote?
The reason is that strict federal rules govern the removal of names from a registered voter list, according to Tracy Smith, director of the Greene County Board of Elections.
Voters who register elsewhere in Greene County are immediately taken off the list where they were previously registered. The county also removes deceased persons from the list after receiving death notices. If the voter registers in another Ohio location, within weeks the county is sent a duplication record from the state and the voter is removed. But if a voter registers outside the state, or doesn’t register in their new location at all, the process is more complicated, Smith said.
That’s because sometimes other states don’t contact the voter’s previous location. And the county also receives no information when a voter hasn’t registered elsewhere.
In these cases, the county then has to wait until two presidential elections pass — up to eight years — before they can begin the process of removal in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act. If the voter has not voted in an election or signed a petition in that time frame, they are designated “inactive voters” and a confirmaiton card is sent to their address on record. Then, if the county receives information from the post office that voter has moved, they can finally be taken off the list.
There are 2,709 active voters in Yellow Springs and 751 inactive voters, according to Smith. The inactive voters list includes 205 former Antioch College students registered at 795 Livermore Street. So last week’s election turnout was actually at least 40 percent.
Either way, Yellow Springs voter turn-out was the highest in the county, Smith said.
“When you look at participation in Yellow Springs from this last election … YS killed everyone,” Smith said.