Rich Van Wyk/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - An effort to save taxpayer money is underway in Marion County to get a better idea of voter turnout.
Republicans and Democrats agreed for the first time in about a decade how to take inactive voters off the voting rolls. The process got underway at the City-County Building Tuesday morning to remove 109,000 voters from the lists, which is about one of every six registered voters in the county.
Officials say most haven't voted since 2004 and some since the late 1990's. Many of the inactive voters are believed to be deceased, or have moved out of state. They were removed from the rolls five years ago.
In the past, Democrats have fought and stopped Republican attempts to clean up the rolls. But this year, with no general election, the time was right for an agreement.
"Certain other times when this was attempted to be done, it was done at the last minute. And I think we've had a chance to, both parties, work - especially when there's no election facing us - that we're able to sit down and do this in a more deliberative process and not do it with looking at anybody else's motives, which may have been questionable at different times," said Marion County Democratic Chairman Ed Treacy.
In 2004, supposedly deceased voters who had been removed from the poll books, showed up alive and ready to vote.
Although names will be removed from poll books, electronic voter registration records will be preserved.
"So if a voter is canceled in error, they can be reactivated once residency is confirmed," said Cindy Mowers with the Board of Voter Registration.
Officials say that change could happen even as late as Election Day.
"We want to make sure our election process is easy, efficient and that we conserve resources," said Marion County Republican Party Chairman Tom John.
The move is expected to save $73,000 a year, mostly in printing costs. At the same time, the removal of inactive names is also expected to increase the actual percentage of voters turning out on Election Day.
Turnout was about 55 percent in the November elections, though it would have been much higher - almost two-thirds - had non-existent voters already been removed from the rolls.
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