A little while ago, I wrote that Utah’s voter file has many people with invalid birthdates. Thousands of registered voters were apparently born between 1800 and 1810, for example. I was asked which counties have the most unusual birthdates on their voter rolls. Here’s the answer.
Obviously erroneous birthdates
First, let’s look at voters who are registered with an obviously false birthdate–that is, anything from the 1800s or earlier.
Box Elder County and Salt Lake County appear to have the biggest problems with invalid birthdates. Box Elder County is worst, with 2.4% of registered voters (i.e. 768 voters) having a birthdate listed in the 1800s or earlier. Salt Lake County is in second place with 0.5% (2,811 voters). Wayne County follows with 0.4% (only 7 voters). Other counties have 0.16% or fewer of their voters with such obviously bad birthdates.
Update: It turns out that these 1800s-era birthdates might not be errors. Salt Lake County, for example, intentionally lists a birthdate of 09/09/1809 for any voter who registered in the days before the state required collection of birthdates. The county clerk enters that date as an error code to indicate that the voter in question was not required to provide a birthdate when he or she first registered.
Outdated voter files
Now, let’s look at counties that have the most (presumably) dead people registered to vote. This time, I’m looking at registered voters with a birthdate between 1900 and 1910. There’s a good chance these birthdates are actually correct, unlike the 1800s birthdates, but these birthdates probably represent people who have long since died and who ought to be purged from the voter file.
Emery County has the most, with 5.2% (447 voters) born between 1900 and 1910, followed by Rich (5.0%), Piute (4.3%), Morgan (3.1%), Beaver (2.8%), Garfield (2.6%), Grand (2.6%), Millard (1.2%), and Tooele (1.2%). Apparently, the state could do more to assist rural counties with keeping their voter rolls current.
Two types of error
There’s really not any correlation between these two types of error. Some counties (Box Elder and Salt Lake) have lots of obviously incorrect birthdates. Others (Emery, Rich, Piute, etc) have lots of presumably dead people.
Update: I’ve only heard from Salt Lake County, but I’m guessing that each county has devised their own system for dealing with the same problem, which would explain why some counties have lots of birthdates in the 1800s while others have lots of birthdates in the very early 1900s.