Missouri has about 90.3 percent of its census voting-age population registered to vote, but 15 counties show more registered voters than people 18 and older.
- Reynolds County, 125.8 percent
- Putnam County, 109.9 percent
- Butler County, 104.3 percent
- Gentry County, 103.9 percent
- Mercer County, 103.6 percent
- Shelby County, 103.2 percent
- Schuyler County, 101.6 percent
- Carter County, 101.5 percent
- Worth County, 101.4 percent
- Ozark County, 100.8 percent
- Dade County, 100.7 percent
- Holt County, 100.6 percent
- Pemiscot County, 100.6 percent
- Howard County, 100.4 percent
- Ralls County, 100.1 percent
These numbers may be high but are an improvement after a federal lawsuit in 2005 found 37 Missouri election jurisdictions had more voters than voting age population.
An article in the Kansas City Star in October 2004 said “If Missouri’s voter rolls are accurate, that would mean that 98 percent of adults are registered to vote .” But the lawsuit was dropped in 2009.
[Update] Laura Egerdal, spokesperson for the Missouri Secretary of State, gave this response on Wednesday:
I would encourage you to take a closer look at the number of active voters, rather than total registered voters. Often, inactive voters appear on the list because the local election authority is waiting the required two federal election cycles before the voter can be removed. The decision in the Department of Justice case you referenced states that federal law “makes it inevitable that voter registration lists will be inflated” because of its requirement that local election authorities wait to remove a voter who has not responded to a canvass mailing until they fail to vote in two successive federal elections.
Missouri’s voter registration rolls are more accurate than ever before, thanks to the diligent work of local election authorities. Over the past 5 years, our office has actively monitored the list maintenance activities of the local election authorities, issued regular reminders on the requirements of state and federal law, and conducted dozens of trainings across the state. Resources such as state vital records information from the Department of Health and Senior Services (identifying deceased voters in Missouri) are updated at least weekly, and we’ve regularly performed matches with the Social Security Administration death records database.
Our office has provided an unprecedented level of support to local election authorities, reimbursing more than $2.27 million their list maintenance activities. We’ve made additional funds available through a grant program that focuses on list maintenance. This includes funding for temporary staff for data entry, printing and postage for NVRA canvass mailings, and even Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. To identify duplicates across state lines, Missouri participates in a multi-state data sharing agreement with 12 midwest states. To identify Missourians who have moved within the state, but not updated their voter registration, we match the voter rolls against the US Postal Service’s “Nation Change of Address” list and send each of those voters a form to update their address.
These proactive efforts by our office go above and beyond the requirements of state and federal law, and they have resulted in the hundreds of thousands of deceased persons and duplicates removed from the rolls since we implemented the statewide list in late 2005.
According to a December 2005 Kansas City Star article, Reynolds County had a 151 percent registration rate at that time. Mike Harper, county clerk of Reynolds County, was not available for comment on Monday or Tuesday for their current 125.8 percent rate, which is the highest of all election jurisdictions.
Voter registration rates for Missouri election districts with population 200,000 or more:
- St. Louis County, 98.2 percent
- Jackson County (includes Kansas City), 88.6 percent
- St. Louis City, 86.1 percent
- St. Charles County, 90.5 percent
- Greene County, 92.2 percent
- Clay County, 89.2 percent
- Jefferson County, 86.1 percent
Counties with the lowest registration rates:
Comparison of U.S. Census Voting Age Estimates to Missouri Registered Voters, 2008 and 2010
Methodology: County registered voter counts were derived from a voter registration file obtained from the Missouri Secretary of State on Aug. 27, 2010.
County population estimates were derived from online census files. Population estimates for those under 18 were subtracted from the total population to derive a voting age population estimate. The latest population estimates are from July 2009. Census data from 2010 are not yet available.
Using current voter data from 2010 with population estimates from 2009 may result in a slightly higher voter participation rate than actual.
A consistency check was made with data from 2008 where both census estimates and voter registration numbers were available during the same year.
Voter registration data for Kansas City and Jackson County were combined since the U.S. Census does not break out Kansas City from the rest of Jackson County in the available files.
- U.S. Census estimates by county by age interval by year,
- Number of Missouri registered voters Oct. 17 – 23, 2008
from Missouri Secretary of State: http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/registeredvoters.asp?rvmID=0008.
- Voters First: An Examination of Missouri Elections, 2006 and 2008.
- Six Kansas counties have more voters than census population, Kansas Watchdog, Oct. 26, 2010.
- Missouri has almost half million inactive voters, Missouri Watchdog, Oct. 25, 2010.
- Justice Department drops voter-roll suit against Carnahan, Kansas City Star, March 2009.
- Voter rolls don’t add up, prompting a federal lawsuit, Kansas City Star, Dec. 6, 2005.
- U.S sues Missouri over voter lists, Kansas City Star, Nov. 23, 2005.
See: Complaint in U.S.A. v. State of Missouri and Robin Carnahan, Missouri Secretary of State, Lawsuit about Missouri’s compliance with National Voter Registration Act, Nov. 22, 2005.
- Voter rolls at record high – Missouri registration totals 4.2 million, Kansas City Star, Oct. 20, 2004
See KSHB’s “Grave Concerns” about voter registration issues in Kansas and Missouri.
Contact: Earl F Glynn, [email protected], KansasWatchdog.org