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NCSL Legislative Summit: Aug. 8, 2011
John Lindback, senior officer, Pew Center on the States
John Lindback, senior officer with the Pew Center on the States, spoke about voter registration across the nation at NCSL’s Legislative Summit in August 2011. A former director of elections for Oregon, Lindback says the goal of voter registration is to have the rolls as accurate as possible when Election Day arrives.
He noted that 1-in-4 voter records of valid voters have at least one piece of inaccurate information, so keeping the rolls clean is a Herculean task. These inaccuracies are an outcome of a very mobile society (as well as mistakes in data input).
The cost of processing manual registration forms is high, when compared with online voter registration systems. Data input errors or errors in deciphering poor handwriting are likely and time-consuming to fix.
States can improve their registration systems, Lindback says, by putting technology to work. In addition to using online voter registration when feasible, states can increase accuracy by increasing data matching efforts. These can be intrastate (comparing voter registrations to other existing data sources within the state, such as exist for social services, motor vehicles, and death records) and interstate (where data are compared across states). Seventeen states have joined Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) a multi-state data-matching plan that is getting underway. It is run by states, for states, with the Pew Center on the States as a non-voting member.
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