Pew study: 1 in 8 voter records flawed

By | Gregory Korte

WASHINGTON – More than 24 million voter-registration records in the United States— about one in eight — are inaccurate, out-of-date or duplicates. Nearly 2.8 million people are registered in two or more states, and perhaps 1.8 million registered voters are dead.

Those estimates, from a report published today by the non-partisan Pew Center on the States, portray a largely paper-based system that is outmoded, expensive and error-prone.

“We have a ramshackle registration system in the U.S. It’s a mess. It’s expensive. There isn’t central control over the process,” said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Experts say there’s no evidence that the errors lead to fraud on Election Day. “The perception of the possibility of fraud drives hyper-partisan policymaking,” said David Becker, director of Pew’s election initiatives. But inactive voters do cost money. Inaccurate lists mean wasted money on mailings and extra paper ballots.

In Wood County, Ohio, home of Bowling Green State University, there are 106% as many registered voters as there were people in the 2010 Census. “We can’t explain it, but obviously having a major university here creates challenges to having our voter-registration list cleaned up,” elections director Deborah Hazard said.

The 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the “motor voter” law, made it easier for people to register to vote by, for example, allowing them to register when they get a state driver’s license.

That same law also made it more difficult to remove someone from the voting rolls. Unless officials have a death certificate or written confirmation from the voter that they’ve moved, a voter must miss two presidential elections — that’s eight years — before they can be removed.

Read the complete article at USA Today.

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