Need for Accurate Voter Registration Lists Highlighted at Election Integrity Commission Meeting

Don Palmer, a Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, former Secretary of the Virginia Board of Elections, and former Florida Director of Elections,testified before the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity today about problems of errors in voter registration lists, the recommendations of previous bipartisan presidential election commissions, and the need for accurate voter rolls:

A series of national level commissions have pointed out the wide scope of the problem concerning the inaccuracies of the voting rolls, and the negative impact on election administration and voter confidence. They have also pointed out the vulnerability of our system to voter fraud and irregularities that result from the inability to maintain accurate voter rolls.

Each of these commissions identified the problem and provided recommendations, yet here we are again, facing the same issue and still searching for answers and the will to do something about it. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) after the 2000 election required counties to work with new statewide voter registration systems to share data for list maintenance purposes and to maintain an official voter registration list. This reform required the states to interact with individual counties because the increasing mobility of our citizens demanded a system where county election officials could receive eligibility and registration information on individuals when they move from jurisdiction to jurisdiction to resolve duplicates. However, the mobility of voters across state lines is almost as significant as within a state, thus requiring the states work together in coordination with each other to resolve the problem. . . .

The voter registration systems in the states desperately need to be upgraded to add capability and made more functionally accurate, secure, and to better facilitate the sharing of registration data between states. Investment in the newest technologies would also allow better matching processes at the state level that improve list maintenance and interact more efficiently with local election officials. Bad matches, false positives, or lack of matching capability is often the result of older systems and software that doesn’t provide the ability to overcome errors in the registration.

Investment in the latest technology will also provide additional security for state and local voter registration systems. While most states already have robust hygiene programs to protect our voter registration systems, new technology would assist in these enhancements.

In addition to these recommendations, Mr. Palmer made a variety of other practical recommendations to the commission that would help states maintain more accurate voter registration lists.  We thank Mr. Palmer, and the other experts who took the time to testify before the commission today, for sharing his expertise and experiential wisdom.