A recent analysis from the Pew Center on the States reveals the massive challenge election officials face in processing registration forms right before a presidential election. Data from four states—Colorado, Florida, Maryland, and Virginia—clearly show that, every four years, election offices must deal with a huge spike in voter registration applications.
For example, in 2008, ahead of an October 6 voter registration deadline, Colorado election officials received more than 90,000 and 80,000 new registrations in September and October, respectively. No other month during the year yielded more than 37,000 new registrations and seven months saw fewer than 25,000.
Additionally, the data show that while registration opportunities are available year-round at many state agencies including motor vehicle offices where millions of transactions occur each year, the vast majority of these last-minute registrations are driven by the election cycle and come through third-party groups or people registering to vote by mail or in person.
This year, election officials once again face the daunting task of processing this tidal wave of voter registrations–finding additional staffing and resources. While always challenging, these last-minute registrations may potentially create an even greater burden during the 2012 election as states contend with tightened budgets.