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Voter Registration Modernization David BeckerJohn Lindback Project Director, Elections InitiativesSenior Officer, Elections InitiativesPew Center on the.

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Presentation on theme: "Voter Registration Modernization David BeckerJohn Lindback Project Director, Elections InitiativesSenior Officer, Elections InitiativesPew Center on the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Voter Registration Modernization David BeckerJohn Lindback Project Director, Elections InitiativesSenior Officer, Elections InitiativesPew Center on the States

2 The Pew Charitable Trusts The Pew Charitable Trusts is driven by the power of knowledge to solve today’s most challenging problems. Pew applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. We partner with a diverse range of donors, public and private organizations and concerned citizens who share our commitment to fact-based solutions and goal-driven investments to improve society. An independent nonprofit, Pew is the sole beneficiary of seven individual charitable funds established between 1948 and 1979 by two sons and two daughters of Sun Oil Company founder Joseph N. Pew and his wife, Mary Anderson Pew.


4 The Pew Center on the States Pew’s Center on the States (PCS) works to advance state policies that serve the public interest. PCS conducts credible research, brings together diverse perspectives and analyzes states’ experiences to determine what works and what does not. Childhood health Corrections and public safety Early education Economic competitiveness Elections Government performance

5 Pew Election Initiatives Track record of bi-partisan work with officials Our process: research then recommendations Three priority areas: - Military and Overseas Voting - Voting Information Project - Voter Registration Modernization

6 Voter Registration Modernization (VRM) Bringing Voter Registration into the 21 st Century

7 The need for modernization: 1.Accuracy 2.Cost 3.Efficiency

8 Accuracy The single greatest factor predicting whether voters will have a voter registration problem is mobility Between 2007 and 2008, more than 1 in 8 Americans moved, with more than 1 in 4 young Americans moving Individuals who have moved within the previous two years are much more likely to encounter registration problems It is estimated that at least 15% of the records in the voter rolls are no longer valid, being either duplicates or outdated (people moving, new voters, new citizens, deaths) Preliminary research appears to show that approximately 1 out of 5 records of valid voters contain at least one inaccurate piece of data (same as Canada, where 20% of list becomes outdated annually) The system is rife with data entry errors, leading to problems at the polls and returned mail

9 Cost Approximately one-third of local election office budgets across the country are devoted to building and maintaining voter registration lists Forsyth County, Georgia (102,424 voters) spent half its $1.4 million budget on the registration process in 2008 Franklin County, Ohio (848,013 voters) spent $1 million on personnel costs for voter registration in 2008 Los Angeles County, California (4,341,135 voters) spent over $13 million on voter registration costs in 2008 Paper-based system requires the printing of millions of paper forms Must be processed by hand, often by dozens of temporary employees Inaccurate information leads to returned mail and processing costs These costs are part of overall 30-35% increase in budgets since HAVA

10 Cost The Oregon experience… Pew is examining what it costs Oregon taxpayers to maintain a list of approximately 2 million voters. A forthcoming Pew study indicates it costs more than $4 per voter to maintain a voter registration list in Oregon in 2008. The state built its new system for approximately $10 million. Costs are incurred at both the local government level (counties) and at the state level. The taxpayers are footing the bill at all three levels of taxation – federal, state and local.

11 Efficiency Various studies estimate that only about 70-75% of eligible voters are captured by the current system 9 million citizens did not register in 2008 because of residency rules or registration deadlines 3 million voters experienced a problem with voter registration in 2008 general election 2.2 million votes were lost due to voter registration problems in the 2008 general election Nearly half of all provisional ballots which went uncounted were rejected due to voters not appearing on the rolls

12 Heavy reliance on political campaigns and third-party voter drives Crush of registrations received near/at the deadline that overwhelm election officials Military voters registering from afar – Military voters were about twice as likely to say they couldn’t vote because of registration problems National Voter Registration Act (Motor Voter) compliance – Paper- and mail-based system – Government-run registration, but unevenly implemented Voter confusion – more than 1 in 4 voters either do not know how to change their registration or think that the postal service or election office automatically updates it – Almost half of all voters are unaware that they can register or update their registration at motor vehicles offices Efficiency

13 Voter Registration Modernization means Keeping lists current Reducing costs, such ballots returned by USPS Minimizing the need for third-party drives Helping voters not on polling place lists Addressing issues that feed litigation Reducing opportunities for fraud

14 Voter Registration Modernization Pew will be releasing a report early in 2010 demonstrating that it is possible, using current technology, to implement a voter registration system that will be more accurate, more cost effective, and more efficient, by: Automatically putting eligible voters onto the voter rolls using data in existing governmental databases; Automatically updating existing voter records using new data captured in other databases; and Providing for a “failsafe” that will allow eligible voters who slip through the cracks or have inaccurate data to correct that so they can cast a ballot at the polls.

15 Improving Accuracy Reduction or near-elimination of duplicate registrations Instant updating of records with most recent information, such as tax records, motor vehicle records, other government data Substantial reduction in returned mail Minimize registration problems at the polls

16 More Cost Effective Automated system means fewer staff and resources needed to create voter records, once infrastructure in place Significantly reduced paper or printing costs List maintenance costs vastly reduced, as updates occur automatically

17 Cost The Canadian experience… In 1996, Elections Canada (its federal elections agency) built its National Register of Electors for $13.3 million CAD for 20 million voters. Costs included the price of building computer systems, acquisition of computer hardware and software and similar costs from provincial data sources. Today, the permanent register cost approximately $5 million per year to maintain. The permanent register is estimated to have saved Canadian taxpayers approximately $130 million over the six elections following its introduction.

18 Cost Experiences in the States Online registration – In Maricopa County, AZ, a paper registration form costs at least 83 cents to process, versus only 3 cents per online registration By eliminating paper and coordinating with DMV better, Delaware was able to reduce labor costs by $200,000 annually

19 Increased Efficiency Much higher percentage of eligible voters on the rolls Significantly reduce reliance on outside registration groups Significantly reduce lost votes No more rush at the registration deadline More accurate information on location of and contact information for military voters, streamlining UOCAVA voting Over half the states have some sort of failsafe for at least some voters The NVRA effectively becomes obsolete Fewer lawsuits

20 The push for modernization Congress is acting – US Senate Committee on Rules & Administration is expected to introduce a major bill addressing VRM this session Committee on House Administration has considered several bills to modernize registration Many states have considered or adopted legislation to modernize their voter registration systems

21 Pew is committed to addressing the challenges, technical and otherwise, in modernizing our system, by promoting innovation in the states Bringing together technical experts and state election officials to address challenges Toronto meeting Producing research Pilots in the states

22 Pew has convened a VRM design working group, made up of state and local election officials from 21 states, as well as academics and technical experts Blueprint for VRM design to be released in the first quarter of 2010 Pilots to follow in multiple states – Those states in the first wave of pilots will receive financial and technical assistance from Pew

23 VRM Design A central data warehouse – the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) – where states would submit data to be matched, and would receive data reports on individuals consistent with state policy – Data sources might include existing voter files, motor vehicles data, military data, NCOA data, Social Security death records, and widely available commercial data – Reports that could be processed: Definitely eligible but unregistered voters Potentially eligible but unregistered voters Voters who died Voters who moved

24 24 Architecture: The Big Picture Data Sources Transactions The Central Service Matching and Memory Subscribers Specific Use 1 2 3 4 C Changes/feedback In basket Matching Database Audit Log A Reports D Files Systems B Lookups

25 David Becker Project Director, Election Initiatives The Pew Center on the States John Lindback Senior Officer, Election Initiatives The Pew Center on the States

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