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Six Kansas counties have more voters than census voting population

By   /   October 26, 2010  /   6 Comments

Kansas counties with 100+ percent voter registration (in red)

Kansas has about 81% of it census voting population registered to vote but six counties show more registered voters than people 18 and older:

Voter registration rates for the five largest counties:

Counties with the lowest registration rates:

In a phone interview on Monday Smith County Clerk Sharon Wolters said she was very aware of the problem with Smith County’s high registration rate:

“We almost have as many people registered as live here … and that means children and everybody.”  …

“Not only have I looked at that, but I know my registration is overstated.  I even did an NVRA [National Voter Registration Act] mailing a year ago to try to get people out of my database. … We can’t remove them without official notification.”

Wolters said Smith County has one of the oldest populations in the state and has many part-year residents.  “A lot of them will go somewhere else and die … we don’t get official data on that,” according to Wolters.

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PDF:  Comparison of U.S. Census Voting Age Estimates to Kansas Registered Voters, 2008 and 2010

Wolters said “we’ve done several things to reduce and correct those numbers, but we just haven’t had much luck.”  Wolters said federal law tightly controls the process by which voters can be removed from the voting rolls.

Jana Irby, County Clerk  in Graham County, was  not aware that voter registration in Graham County had exceeded census voting population estimates.

Irby said “I don’t know how the census works.”  But she had concerns that census numbers may not accurately reflect their population.  For example, the U.S. census counts students where they are attending school even though they may vote from their home address.

[Updated Nov. 8, 2010] Crystal Gatewood, Cherokee County Clerk, said the problem with Cherokee County numbers existed before she came into office in 2009.  Gatewood says her office works hard to identify inactive voters but removal of any voters is restricted by federal law.  Cherokee County shares borders with both Missouri and Oklahoma, which may explain a higher rate of inactive voters with people moving both ways across the state lines.

Kansas elections official Brad Bryant at the Secretary of State‘s office suggested voter registration rates might drop next year after the election.  Bryant explained that voters who have been tagged as inactive now could be removed from the voting lists after missing two federal elections, and a new federal election would be held next month.

A Dec. 2005 Kansas City Star article said Kansas had eight counties in 2004 that had registration rates between 99 and 101 percent.

Nearby Missouri has a voter registration rate of 90.3 percent now with 15 counties exceeding 100% voter registration.  A federal lawsuit was filed in 2005 in Missouri when 36 of their 114 election jurisdictions had more registered voters than census voting population.

Methodology.  County voter registration counts were derived from a voter registration file obtained from the Kansas Secretary of State on Sept. 7, 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.



See KSHB’s “Grave Concerns” about voter registration issues in Kansas and Missouri.

Contact: Earl F Glynn, earl@kansaswatchdog.org, KansasWatchdog.org