Upgrading Democracy: Improving States’ Voter Registration Systems

May 09, 2011

Election Initiatives  |  Contact: Olivia Doherty, 202.540.6433

May 9, 2011 — Our current voter registration systems have not kept pace with technological advances or with America’s rapidly changing—and increasingly mobile—society. Upgrading Democracy, a report from Pew, examines how technology can be used to improve voter registration.

A decade into the 21st century, a largely unchanged 19th century registration system constrains election offices and frustrates voters. Inefficiencies plague the entire process, reducing the accuracy and integrity of state voter rolls and raising the costs of maintenance.

Improving the Technology

Working with election officials and other experts, Pew has identified  how election offices can upgrade their voter registration systems by improving the technology they use to capture data about voters and to keep it current.

The approach comprises three core elements:

  1. Compare voter registration lists with a wider array of data sources to broaden the base of information used to update and verify voter rolls.
  2. Use proven matching techniques and data security protocols to attain the level of integrity and confidence needed to ensure accuracy and privacy.
  3. Establish new means for voters to submit information online and minimize manual data entry, resulting in lower costs and fewer errors.

By combining these elements, states could phase out many laborious and error-prone procedures and considerably heighten the level of accuracy, integrity and utility of the registration process.

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ (PDF) provides background information on the current voter registration system and answers commonly asked questions about Upgrading Democracy.

 
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