The names of over 4,600 people registered to vote on Kaua’i and Ni’ihau but who hadn’t voted since the 1998 elections are gone from the list of eligible voters.
The deletion removed about 12 percent of the 38,445 registered voters in the county who were registered at the end of the 2002-03 election cycle, said County Clerk Peter Nakamura.
That leaves 33,838 names on the county list of eligible voters.
During the November, 2002 general election, some 23,464 people voted on Kaua’i and Ni’ihau, or 62.6 percent of the 37,392 eligible voters. If the purge had been done before the general election, and the same number of people voted, that would have pushed the county’s turnout up to 69.3 percent.
The purging action happened this week as part of a statewide voter-list maintenance program required by federal law. Another purge is scheduled to happen in four years, where those registered to vote in the 2004 and 2006 elections who fail to do so will similarly be removed, he said.
Most of those removed from the list of eligible voters in the county this week are people who left the island and left no forwarding addresses, or those who were away from the island during the elections of 2000 and 2002 and failed to vote.
They will need to re-register if interested in voting next year, Nakamura said.
Voters who died, moved away leaving forwarding addresses, or canceled their voter registrations, are routinely removed from lists of eligible voters after each election cycle, he said.
The latest purge, though, removed names of voters who failed to keep in contact with county elections offices, and failed to vote in every election since 1998, Nakamura said.
“A properly maintained voter roll adds to the integrity of the elections process,” said Nakamura, president of the Association of Clerks and Election Officers of Hawai’i (the four county clerks).
“We will now see a better picture of Hawai’i’s participation rates.”
Statewide, 103,192 names were removed from lists maintained by the various counties, representing just over 15 percent of the 676,242 voters eligible to go to the polls during the general election of November, 2002.
The National Voter Registration Act mandates local elections officials to send two mailings to voters, get no response from those mailings, then wait for two federal elections cycles to pass without those voters casting ballots, before their names can be removed from voter lists.
Educational efforts encouraging more eligible people to get out and vote target both the young and not-so-young, said Nakamura. Getting eligible adults to register and vote, and educating the next generation of voters about civic responsibilities and duties including voting, are among those efforts, he said.
With state funds extremely tight, though, money that used to come for voter education has dried up, he concluded.
Staff Writer Paul C. Curtis can be reached at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org or 245-3681 (ext. 224).