Upgrading Voter Registration Design

Sep 09, 2011

Inefficiencies in America’s voter registration systems lead to an inaccurate and costly registration process.

Americans are more mobile than ever before, yet our paper-based voter registration system has been slow to adapt.

Pew has been working with state and local election officials, as well as technology experts, to upgrade voter registration systems by improving the technology used to keep registration records up to date.

A key component of an upgraded system is a common data exchange which would allow states to share data from multiple sources to be matched and processed. This data center, called an Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), would allow participating states to: streamline the processes for registering eligible voters; update records of existing voters; and remove duplicate and invalid records from state voter files.

Learn more about the system design in Pew’s report Upgrading Democracy: Improving America’s Elections by Modernizing States’ Voter Registration Systems.

Protection of Personal Data

To ensure the highest degrees of security protocols are achieved, Pew commissioned the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), to analyze the ERIC system design and make recommendations. CDT is a leader in the field of privacy protection.

CDT found that:

“Pew’s UVR design, and the ERIC data center at its core, incorporate technology, policy and governance features that appropriately balance and advance the interests at stake: improving the quality of voter registration data while at the same time protecting and even improving the privacy and security of information shared across state lines for registration purposes.”

CDT provides an evaluation of the principal metrics of any data system, reporting that:

  • • Data security has been built into the core of the system; 
  • • The quality of the information passing through the system will be accurate, relevant and timely;
  • • The system will be transparent; and
  • • All decisions regarding the information will rest firmly at the state level.   

Download the CDT report.

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