Over the past 10 years since it faced two federal lawsuits, the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners has quietly cut 75,000 people off of its voter rolls. That represents more than a quarter of the 281, 316 voters on the city’s rolls in 2004. St. Louis’ voter list now totals 206,349, according to state election records. The city’s Republican elections director, Gary Stoff, says none of the excised voters appears to have been an active voter. He suspects most were people who had moved or died and whose names had simply been languishing on the city’s voter rolls for years. But the reduction in St. Louis’ voter rolls appears to be by far the most dramatic action taken by the 29 Missouri counties – the city of St. Louis is its own county – that were sued 10 years ago by the federal government because they had more people on their voter rolls than their entire voting-age population.
Most of those counties were in rural Missouri. Pemiscot County in the southeastern Bootheel, for example, had 20,076 on its voter rolls in 2004, even though its voting-age population, according to federal census records, totaled only 13,842. That amounted to a 45 percent overage, one of the state’s highest.
The federal suit also had accused the Missouri secretary of state’s office of being at fault as well, even though state election officials have no jurisdiction over local election authorities. Several years later, the federal suit was dropped for various reasons and the state declared victory.
Still, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander prompted a new look at the counties in question when he issued a release last week noting that all 29 now have cleaner – and generally smaller — voter rolls. None has rolls larger than the vote-age population.