One in 8 U.S. voter registrations faulty: survey

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 15, 2012 1:03pm EST

Voters casts their ballots in a voting booth in Dover, New Hampshire, January 8, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Voters casts their ballots in a voting booth in Dover, New Hampshire, January 8, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Carlos Barria

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One in eight U.S. voter registrations is invalid or markedly inaccurate, the result of an outdated and inefficient registration system, a Pew Center on the States report said on Tuesday.

More than 1.8 million dead people are listed as active U.S. voters, and about 2.75 million people have active registration in more than one state, according to the research by the non-partisan think tank.

U.S. electoral systems "are plagued with errors and inefficiencies that waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections," the report said.

Largely paper-based voter registration "has not kept pace with advancing technology and a mobile society."

The report ahead of the November general elections comes as states across the country, in contentious moves, have tightened voter identification requirements.

Voter ID laws were passed in eight states last year, and the Virginia legislature is debating bills to stiffen ID requirements. The Justice Department blocked South Carolina's ID law in December, arguing it discriminated against minority voters.

The Pew report did not identify voter fraud as a problem, saying the inefficiencies could lead to "the perception that they (elections) lack integrity or could be susceptible to fraud."


One reason for voter registration trouble is that Americans frequently change voting districts, the report said.

About one in eight Americans moved during the 2008 and 2010 election years. Up to 25 percent of young Americans move each year, it said.

A study Pew conducted with Oregon showed taxpayers spent $4.11 per active voter in 2008 to process registrations and keep up a voter list, or $7.67 per transaction, such as new or updated registration.

Canada spends less than 35 cents to process registrations and 93 percent of its population is registered. Canada uses modern technology for registration and data-matching methods common in the private sector, the report said.

The Pew study was carried out by RTI International, a nonpartisan North Carolina research institute. RTI used a database maintained by Catalist LLC, a Washington processor of voter information.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta)

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Comments (3)
budster278 wrote:
A major cause of this issue is that states hold onto the registration process as part of what they consider ‘state’s rights’. Though they do hold the right to determine how elections are held, there really isn’t an issue with the federal government starting a national voter’s registry for federal elections. State would have the right to have their own as well, but why would they bother? It would start with citizens being registered at birth, by SS#. This way, if they moved between districts, it could be fixed by updating the database with tax return address info or other sources. Making the rules the same across state lines is really the only way to make sure the system is accurate, which is good for everyone.

Feb 15, 2012 1:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mkrand01 wrote:
I don’t doubt the information presented is correct, people move much more often these days. But, dead people that are still registered and don’t vote is not a real issue and people that move and only vote once is still not voting twice, they are simply voting. Changes could and most likely should be made to update the system, but faulty registration and voter fraud are two completely different actions. The concept is one vote one person. In local elections voting in a district that you no longer live in is a form of fraud, as you are not living in your old district(which brings up the question why would you bother voting in a district you no longer live beyond knowing the local issues and you have to get a new drivers license at some point anyway), but in national elections it does not make a difference if you only vote once (one could get into the argument of representative vs. electoral college votes but…). Faulty vs fraud. Lastly, who has the nerve/time/inclination to vote for a dead person? Absentee voting for dead people, I am sure that is as easy to do as getting a cup of coffee at your local Starbucks. Not. Where do you start… A list of people who have died from the court house, obtaining relevant address information, procuring absentee ballets for the deceased, one each mind you, forging signatures, an in most cases this would have to be done thousands of time to impact the outcome of an election (as this could not be done in small cities as people know when neighbors pass on in cities of less than 100k)etc… People have better things to do with their time. If you get caught it is a federal crime, you are doing some serious time. Voter fraud very rarely happens, people need to understand when their candidate lost the election, they just lost because not enough people voted for them. Oh, and your friends most likely think like you do, so not knowing anyone who voted for the
“other” guy means absolutely nothing.

I am waiting for a response that has something about voter factories, where thousands of fraudulent votes are processed a day….

Feb 15, 2012 1:50pm EST  --  Report as abuse
mkrand01 wrote:
Tax return address will not work. If an individual has no tax liability, they are not required to file. That would be a lot of people, mostly people on some form of social security and people that live off their land in smaller communities. As my other post discussed, there is a huge difference between voter fraud and faulty registration. Voting for a dead person is fraud (which was not what this article is about) and faulty is simply having a dead person or a person that has moved still registered. Huge difference.

Feb 15, 2012 1:56pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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