Report

Voter Registration Data Accuracy

A Study of Two Major Jurisdictions

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Quick Summary

This July 2010 report revealed a voter registration system that was not serving America's increasingly mobile voters Trapped by the confines of an antiquated, paper-based system, election administrators did not have the necessary tools to improve the accuracy of the data in their state voter registration rolls.

Between August 2008 and July 2009, researchers at Harvard and Yale universities conducted targeted audits in two jurisdictions, Los Angeles County and the state of Florida, to assess the accuracy of state and local voter registration data. This report provides a detailed description of the methodology and practices applied—which are potentially replicable across the country.

Highlights of the study:

• Twelve percent of Florida voters and nearly 10 percent of Los Angeles County voters surveyed reported at least one significant error—such as name, birth date or address—in their record that could prevent them from casting a ballot.
• Mobile voters—those who moved shortly before an election—are the most likely to report a problem with their registration data.
• A majority of inaccuracies in voter registration records are the result of updating, rather than the initial registration application.

The study reveals a voter registration system that is not serving America's increasingly mobile voters. Trapped by the confines of an antiquated, paper-based system, election administrators do not have the necessary tools to improve the accuracy of the data in their state voter registration rolls. Download the results or the methodology of the report.

States would better serve voters by exploring modern technology, commonly used in other government agencies and the private sector, which could improve the accuracy and efficiency of the system while bringing down costs.

To learn more about Pew's work on voter registration, visit the Voter Registration Modernization Web page.

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Stephanie Bosh

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