Analysis

How Do States Update Voter Registration Lists?

Return to Election Data Dispatches.

A statutory overview shows that states vary widely in the way they maintain and update their voter registration rolls. How states manage these lists can affect the accuracy and reliability of the information.

In the 2010 Election Assistance Commission statutory overview of election administration laws, 46 of 54 responding states and territories reported comparing voter registration information with state driver’s license records.

Twenty-seven out of these same 54 jurisdictions report linking their system with the Social Security Administration.

When maintaining registration records, 20 of the 54 states and territories reported labeling voters “inactive” for failure to vote. Generally, this happens after a registrant does not vote over any four-year time period that includes two federal elections.

Additionally, 33 states remove voters who did not vote for a period of time (generally over two federal elections) and did not respond to a confirmation notice.