Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient

Evidence That America's Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade

Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient

Research in Pew's report underscores the need for registration systems that better maintain voter records, save money, and streamline processes.

Our democratic process requires an effective system for maintaining accurate voter registration information. Voter registration lists are used to assign precincts, send sample ballots, provide polling place information, identify and verify voters at polling places, and
determine how resources, such as paper ballots and voting machines, are deployed on Election Day. However, these systems are plagued with errors and inefficiencies that waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections.

Voter registration in the United States largely reflects its 19th-century origins and has not kept pace with advancing technology and a mobile society. States' systems must be brought into the 21st century to be more accurate, cost-effective, and efficient.

Research commissioned by the Pew Center on the States highlights the extent of the challenge:

  • Approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.
  • More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.
  • Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.

Meanwhile, researchers estimate at least 51 million eligible U.S. citizens are unregistered, or more than 24 percent of the eligible population.

Errata

The following errors were found subsequent to the release of the report.  They have been corrected in the online PDF.

Downloads ErrataReport
Downloads ErrataReport
The front facade of the Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, DC.
ian-hutchinson-U8WfiRpsQ7Y-unsplash.jpg_master

Agenda for America

A collection of resources to help federal, state, and local decision-makers set an achievable agenda for all Americans

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for emerging challenges, it makes government more effective and better able to serve the public interest. In the coming months, President Joe Biden and the 117th Congress will tackle a number of environmental, health, public safety, and fiscal and economic issues—nearly all of them complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help solve specific, systemic problems in a nonpartisan fashion, Pew has compiled a series of briefings and recommendations based on our research, technical assistance, and advocacy work across America.

Lightbulbs
Lightbulbs

States of Innovation

Data-driven state policy innovations across America

Quick View

Data-driven policymaking is not just a tool for finding new solutions for difficult challenges. When states serve their traditional role as laboratories of innovation, they increase the American people’s confidence that the government they choose—no matter the size—can be effective, responsive, and in the public interest.