Voter card mailout not without hiccups

Published 7:00 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Election officials want to ensure Brookhaven voters know where to cast a ballot during upcoming municipal elections in the hope of reducing confusion at the polls, but those officials have already encountered a few headaches themselves.

In a mass mailing of voter registration cards sent during the last week of March, several Brookhaven areas did not receive the cards.

These areas included the Deer Run and Moreton Estates neighborhoods, but City Clerk Mike Jinks has asked other residents to inform him if they did not receive a copy of their voter registration card by mail.

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The voter registration cards indicate the city ward and county district a given voter lives in. Mailing cards to each registered voter in the city is intended to help inform those voters if they have been moved into a new ward due to redistricting.

The oversight of the Deer Run and Moreton Estates areas has been rectified through a subsequent mailing, Jinks said.

Jinks and Lincoln County Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield have been collaborating to update voter rolls to reflect the city’s recent redistricting, but the cards were mailed through the Secretary of State’s Office.

Due to an additional mistake, some voters received multiple voter registration cards in the mail.

As far as Jinks knows, the duplicate cards received by each voter are identical. If so, voters need take no action, the city clerk said.

However, if the voter registration number or other information should differ between the two cards, Jinks said his office needs to be informed.

There are approximately 9,100 registered voters in Brookhaven and due to duplicate cards Jinks said around 9,700 voter registration cards have been mailed.

The city clerk also needs to know if someone believes the voter registration card has the incorrect ward listed.

Initially, some cards had voters in the wrong ward.

Streets that are at the border between wards proved particularly problematic.

Jinks and Bairfield acted on information that even-numbered houses were on one side of streets, and thus in a particular ward, and odd-numbered houses on the other side of the street, and thus in another ward.

Jinks said they began the process assuming the even/odd numbering was consistent.

That turned out not to be the case. Jinks said at least one street he has since dealt with had odd- and even-numbered houses on both sides of the street.

On another street Jinks mentioned, the even- and odd-numbered houses switch sides of the street at a certain point.

“There’s no way to know that unless you go see it,” Jinks said.

Sending out the cards will also help purge the voter rolls.

Jinks said if a resident’s voter card is returned in the mail, that person’s name goes to inactive status. Someone can still vote if they’re listed as inactive, but they have to provide proof of residency.

If a voter remains listed as inactive through two federal election cycles, they can then be moved onto a purge list, Jinks said.

The county election commissioners are the only body that can purge voters off the Lincoln County rolls.

If someone receives a voter registration card at their address for someone that no longer lives at that address, Jinks asked that the card be returned.

“Don’t just throw it away,” the clerk said.

Jinks pointed out there are conceivably quite a few extraneous names on the rolls.

He pointed out there are approximately 12,000 residents in the city and approximately 9,000 registered voters.

Said Jinks, “That doesn’t leave much room for children under 18.”