Virginia Voter registration is all over the map / PWC Stats in a Chart
by Katie Watson
ALEXANDRIA — Voter registration rolls are all over the map in Virginia, begging the question: How reliable are the Old Dominion’s records?
County registrars attribute the disparity in high and low levels of voter registration and inactive voter rolls to everything from highly mobile populations to student-saturated demographics.
In Surry County, the comparison of voter registration to U.S. Census figures on voting-age population is roughly 100 percent — by far the highest in the Commonwealth. The state average is roughly 82 percent, according to data compiled by Watchdog.org.
Surry County Registrar Lucille Epps attributed the high registration levels to the tightly knit atmosphere of the 7,000-person town. She said her office does its best to remove dead voters and keep the rolls clean.
“Before they even get cold, we’ve got them off our books,” Epps told Virginia Watchdog. “They’re off in 15 minutes.”
Craig County, Isle of Wight County, James City-County, Mathews County, Poquoson city and Rappahannock County all have 95 percent of their voting-aged population registered — figures that may not be too far from reality, according to local registrars.
Some localities are on the other end of the spectrum, however, when it comes to registration levels. With 50 percent voter registration compared with voting-age population, Harrisonburg has the lowest figure in the state.
Jim Gilchrist, vice chair for the Electoral Board for the city, attributed some of that to a large immigrant population.
“Forty percent of our students in the city schools have ESL, English as a second language, so one can infer from that that their parents probably aren’t eligible to vote, even though they’re counted in the census,” Gilchrist said.
To view the full registration data set by locality, visit Watchdoglabs.org. Look for more stories on the subject next week, as Virginia Watchdog dives into inactive voter lists and more. // PWCPolitics Editor’s note: Data for PWC are shown below.
by Katie Watson
The chart below compares US Census Voting Age Population to Registered Voter Counts for Prince William County, Virginia.
General comments about the chart:
- The black line represents the total locality population from the Census 2000 and the Census 2010 enumeration and census estimates for other years.
- The blue line represents the census voting age population counts or estimates, those 18 years or older.
- The voter registration points in red represent total registration values (Active + Inactive) from the Virginia State Board of Elections’ online reports.
- The points in green represent only the Active voters. The difference between Active and Total registration, the Inactive voters, is a measure of voter bloat.
- Total and active voter counts from a file of Virginia voters are shown by black-filled circles. The names of the voters represented by these points are known.
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