The estimated voting age population of Washington County in September was 34,346 people.
Of those, 32,061 or 93.347% are registered to vote.
While the registration number was high, counting absentee ballots, about 17,000 people voted in the presidential election on Tuesday.
According to the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office, any county with a registered voter percentage of 90% or higher are specifically singled out and targeted to clean up their voter rolls.
In this past election season, the Secretary of State’s office mailed a statewide notification concerning COVID-19 precautions at elections and in each county set the return address as the local circuit clerk’s office according to spokesperson Kendra James.
She said those returned mailing should have helped counties contact and correct any problems in voter registration.
According to local election officials, the voter rolls in Washington County are purged every year for incorrect voter registration, deceased voters and those who have left the area.
While Washington County’s registration percentage is high, it’s only the 31st highest in the state. Humphreys County at 107.26% leads all Mississippi counties in voter registration percentage.
There are 47 counties with more than 90% of their voting age population registered to vote.
When Michael Watson took the reigns as Mississippi Secretary of State, he went on an 82-county tour with the express purpose of meeting with the circuit court clerks to advise them on keeping a clean voter roll.
“County election commissioners are trained each year on voter roll maintenance,” James said. “They are to maintain the voter roll by purging voters who have died, been convicted of a disenfranchising crime, been declared mentally incompetent or requested removal from the voter roll.”
Death, leaving the district and felony crime convictions disqualify voters in Mississippi.
“Our office has imports from the Department of Health and Vital Statistics, which show voters who have been issued a death certificate, and imports from the Administrative Office of Courts for voters who have been convicted of a disenfranchising crime,” James said. “While the death certificates are accurate, the election commissioners are trained to obtain a copy of a sentencing/conviction order before purging a voter for a disenfranchising crime.”
There are also guides from the federal government on keeping voters rolls reflective of the actual voting public to reduce instances of voter fraud.
“Election commissioners should follow the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) for purging voters who have possibly moved away from the county,” James sad. “They should use reliable sources of information to confirm this information and mail those voters who have moved (or possibly moved) a confirmation card, which asks the voter to confirm he/she still lives at the address on file or update the voter’s address if the voter has moved. Voters are responsible for updating their addresses each time the voter moves, which may require reregistering to vote in a new county or new state.”