St. Louis County works to process voter registration backlog

Tuesday, September 23, 2008 | 2:35 p.m. CDT; updated 5:00 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 23, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Missouri's largest voting jurisdiction, St. Louis County, is processing thousands of new voter registrations in advance of the presidential election.

About 50 workers, including many temporary employees, are working to get the backlog resolved, county Republican elections director Joseph Goeke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in Tuesday's edition.

State law mandates that new voter registrations be placed on the voting rolls within seven days. He said they're working on that as quickly as they can.

A spokeswoman for Secretary of State Robin Carnahan said the office is aware of the high numbers of new voter registrations St. Louis County is processing, and said it's expected the new registrations should be recorded in the next few weeks.

Goeke said St. Louis County is on track to have at least 700,000 registered voters eligible to cast ballots for the Nov. 4 election. That's close to 20 percent of the state's total tally of just over 4 million registered voters.

Other communities in Missouri, a battleground state, are reporting high numbers of new registrations. Absentee balloting began Tuesday in Missouri. The deadline to register to vote in Missouri for the November election is Oct. 8.

Carnahan spokeswoman Laura Egerdal said the state's total of eligible voters includes at least 170,000 new registrations since the presidential primary on Feb. 5. It is still growing, with the registrations being processed.

Jackson County's election board, which includes suburban Kansas City, just finished its own registration backlog, and now expects to have about 140,000 registered voters on file by the deadline.

Election officials in the city of St. Louis and St. Charles County said their staffs are also working overtime to get all the new registrations on the voter rolls.

Rich Chrismer, St. Charles County's elections director, said the pace is similar to what he saw in 2004, the last presidential election year. St. Charles County now has roughly 237,000 voter registrations on the books.

Goeke said part of St. Louis County's delay was tied to multiple voter-registration efforts in the state, which he said often lead to duplicate registrations. That slows down election workers, who try to ensure that only one registration ends up on the books.

Goeke said his staff also got behind because of the recounts ordered after several close contests in the Aug. 5 statewide primary.

He said new absentee voters whose registrations have yet to be processed should not worry. If they show up to cast an absentee ballot at the county Election Board headquarters in Maplewood, they will be re-registered on site.

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