The NCSL Blog

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By Dan Diorio

The 2016 presidential primaries have been memorable so far, not only because of the candidates, but also because of the stories emerging about different aspects of states’ election systems.

Voter checking boxWhether it’s long lines in Arizona, ongoing primary versus caucus debates in Colorado, Maine, Minnesota and Utah, or thousands of voters who mistakenly registeried with the American Independent Party in California, the stories may end up fueling debates in legislatures across the country for years to come.

The latest controversy comes from New York which held its presidential primary last Tuesday: hundreds of thousands of voters in Brooklyn were dropped, or “purged,” from the voter rolls between November 2015 and the primary. The move was condemned by Mayor Bill de Blasio and is going to be investigated by city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

But the reality is that “purging” isn’t illegal on its face. Voter list maintenance is an essential function that election officials perform in the lead-up to an election, and the National Voter Registration Act sets federal guidelines on when and how it should be done.

Accurate voter registration information is critical for smooth running elections and since 1 in 8 registrations are inaccurate according to The Pew Charitable Trusts, election officials and voters need tools to help keep that information up-to-date.

Fortunately, the elections team at NCSL is bringing some key players together to discuss why voter list maintenance is important and what tools and options are available for legislators to consider.

The webinar Spring Cleaning Your Voter Lists—The Legislative Role will be held on Friday, May 6 at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT/12 p.m. MT/11 a.m. PT. Join representatives from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) and others to discuss why accuracy in the voter registration rolls is vital for smooth-running elections especially in a big election year, and how accuracy can help avoid problems on Election Day. Hear ideas to help your state maintain voter lists year after year.

Register today! And in the meantime check out NCSL’s voter list accuracy webpage for more information.

Dan Diorio is a policy specialist in NCSL's Elections Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.