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Errors Push Voter Registration Online

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

An antiquated voter system is to blame for listing 1.8 million dead people as registered "active" voters in the United States, the Pew Center on the States concludes in a new study that shows millions of mistakes in voter rolls across the nation and recommends online registration to fix them.

The study found 24 million voter registrations, or one out of every eight, were no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. Beside the nearly 2 million dead potential voters, 12 million registrations had the wrong address and 2.75 million voters were registered in more than one state.

"The system has been using technology that's really paper-based, mail-based, 19th century technology for a long, long time and it hasn't moved into the 21st century yet," Pew Election Initiatives Director David Becker said.

Election administrators say many of these mistakes occur when people move, or change their names. People often remember to update their driver's license, but don't realize their records are not automatically cross-referenced by a state computer. In most places, voters have to re-register separately.

Eight states are doing something to change that. 

Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Virginia and Washington are creating a central, computerized database to share information with each other. This will help states electronically, and more quickly, verify if one of their voters has moved or died out of state.

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