Leflore County Election Commissioner Preston Ratliff says the county’s notoriously bloated voting rolls are actually in better shape than they were a decade ago.

If that’s true, that’s not saying much.

The county still tied for the second-highest rate in Mississippi of registered voters when compared to voting age population. According to data released by the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office, there are 733 more active registered voters on the Leflore County rolls than there are people old enough to vote. Only six other counties in the state have a registered percentage greater than 100%.

Michael Watson, the secretary of state, said he would be more comfortable with the accuracy of a county’s voting rolls if they were in the 75% to 80% range.

When voting rolls are bloated, it adds to a county’s costs. When jurors are needed for court proceedings, an excess of summonses have to be mailed in order to get enough people to appear.

Bloated voting rolls are also an invitation to election mischief. When election fraud occurs, it usually involves absentee ballots that are cast in the name of someone who has died or moved away. Having lots of superfluous names on the rolls makes it easier to orchestrate such a scheme.

Clean voting rolls are the responsibility of the Election Commission. They should work harder to get this problem corrected.

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