More than 4.2 million voters across Indiana received a small black and white postcard from the state’s Election Division this week.
The reason? State officials are updating voter registration rolls. The cards, which cost $1.1 million to mail, ask that if the registered voter named on the card no longer lives at that address, to return it with “no longer lives here” printed across the front.
Valerie Warycha, communications director for the Secretary of State’s office, said that maintenance of voter registration lists is required by a federal law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and that the postcards were sent out in order to update and maintain current voter data.
“I often tell people ‘you wouldn’t accept bad data anywhere else, why would you want the state’s voter rolls to contain inaccurate data,’” Warycha said.
The law allows postcards to be used to verify the voting data of the recipient. The state has been responsible for maintaining voter rolls since a 2014 change adopted by the General Assembly.
Prior to the 2014 change, the Election Division would get calls from upset voters that deceased loved ones or neighbors who had moved were still listed on their poll book.
“This caused voters to question the integrity of the election if our data wasn’t accurate,” Warycha said.
When a card is returned, a second one is automatically sent to the new address on file with Postal Service asking the voter to update their information. No postcards have been returned so far.
Voters who don’t respond to the second postcard are put on the inactive list. If the voter does not vote or update in the next two federal election cycles, the registration may be removed. If they do vote within the two federal election cycles, they are marked as active.
If a registration is marked inactive and the county chooses to remove it after the two federal election cycles, the voter can sign an affidavit at the polling location stating they have not moved from the address.
The state’s general election will be held on Nov. 5 and the office is already looking at other ways they can maintain voter data.
“In addition, when we have bloated voter rolls, it deflates voter turnout numbers,” Warycha said.