Check your voter registration: Election board reviews registration postcard confirmations, no fresh news on registration fraud allegation

At its meeting last Thursday, Monroe County’s three-person election board got an update on the state election division’s effort to update voter registration rolls, with a postcard mailing.

Registered voters should have received a postcard mailing in late May, confirming their registration to vote at the address where the postcard was delivered. Registration can also be confirmed online.  [It’s the “Check Voting Status” option.]

The registration confirmation postcards are part of the state’s process for reducing outdated voter records. For people who receive an accurate card with their name on it, no action is requested.

Election officials want people who received a postcard with a name they don’t recognize to write “Return to Sender” on the card and put it in a mailbox.

That doesn’t cancel anyone’s voter registration, but it does activate the second step in a process the state uses to try to keep voter rolls updated.

At Thursday’s election board meeting, there was no fresh news to report about the status of the alleged case of voter registration fraud, which was discussed at the board’s previous meeting.

It has been forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office, which has handed off the matter to the state police for investigation, board chair Carolyn VandeWiele told her colleagues. VandeWiele is the Democratic Party’s appointment to the election board.

The state police have not yet responded, VandeWiele said.

At Thursday’s meeting, election supervisor Karen Wheeler briefed the board on some of the glitches that affected the state election division’s postcard mailing. For 16,351 postcards statewide, a suffix like “Jr.” or “Sr.” was was omitted. Another 2,366 voter registration confirmation postcards were sent out missing a part of the name itself. Those voters will receive a corrected postcard, with the missing elements displayed in red, Wheeler told the board.

Any improvement in the accuracy of the voter registration records will depend on recipients of confirmation postcards with non-resident names to drop those postcards in a mailbox with “Return to Sender” written on them.

For voters whose postcards are returned to the state’s election division, a second postcard will be sent—but the second one will be forward-able to whatever new address might be on file with the postal service. The second postcard includes a few options for people to check, Wheeler said. Options include indicating that they still live in the state of Indiana, but have moved to another county, or have moved to an address inside the same county.

The lack of precisely up-to-date, accurate voter registration rolls is one of the issues that Margaret Menge wanted to highlight, when she registered the name of a non-existent person to vote in Monroe County, sometime after the November 2020 general election.

That’s the case of potential voter registration fraud that the election board has asked the prosecutor’s office to investigate.

Menge told The Square Beacon that as a journalist, she wanted to “test the system” of voter registration to check whether it’s possible to register someone who doesn’t exist.

According to local election officials, Menge’s registration under the non-existent person’s name was possible due to human error. They became aware of it when Menge followed up to inquire about the registration.

VandeWiele told her colleagues on the election board—Hal Turner (Republican Party appointee) and Nicole Browne (Monroe County clerk)—that the investigation is “ongoing,” and the registration in question is still active, because the county election staff cannot legally cancel it.

Vandewiele said no word has been heard from the state police after the prosecutor’s office handed off the case to them. VandeWiele said the county prosecutor’s office will follow up with the state police to check on the status of the investigation.