voter registration application illustration

Voters whose registrations become inactive during list maintenance will need to verify their address when they vote in person.

Election News: Voter Registration List Maintenance

By Amanda Zoch | June 29, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

Registered voters in Maine who haven’t cast a ballot in the past two federal elections should check their mailboxes.

On June 15, Maine’s secretary of state sent 248,227 postcards to those voters, asking them to verify their residence and eligibility to vote. This outreach is part of the state’s routine voter registration list maintenance, which helps ensure that its lists are accurate ahead of the November general election. Such maintenance is common practice in most states.

In Maine, voter registrations become “inactive” if postcards are undeliverable or if voters fail to respond within 20 days. Voters who miss the deadline aren’t out of luck—they’ll simply need to verify their address when they go to vote. 

Voter list maintenance procedures have attracted significant attention over the past few years. After all, an accurate voter list (or voter roll) provides the foundation for an accurate election. When voters are associated with the right addresses, they are assigned to the right precincts and get the right ballots. And in states where voters are mailed ballots, a clean list saves money.

So far this year, 29 states and the Virgin Islands have introduced 111 bills addressing voter registration list maintenance, with 17 enactments in 10 states.

Here’s a sampling:

  • Arizona SB 1260 requires the county recorder to cancel a voter’s registration when it receives confirmation that a voter has registered to vote in another county.
  • Arizona SB 1477 requires the clerk of the superior court, which has locations in each county, to provide a monthly update to the secretary of state of every felony conviction. The secretary of state then shares that information with the county recorders, who cancel relevant registrations.
  • Idaho SB 1351 requires the secretary of state, in conjunction with county clerks, to make an annual report to the Legislature addressing voter registration list maintenance.
  • Mississippi HB 1510 establishes a process to compare information in voter registration applications with information on file with the Department of Public Safety to confirm that applicants are U.S. citizens. If indications are that an applicant may not be a citizen, further inquiry must be made using the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements database. If neither database proves citizenship, the applicant is contacted to provide proof.
  • Oklahoma HB 3365 amends the state’s list maintenance procedures by requiring registrations to be canceled (rather than allowing them to be canceled) in specific circumstances, including death, registration in another county or state, or the surrender of a voter’s Oklahoma driver’s license. The bill also requires that a list of canceled voter registrations from the past 24 months and the reasons for cancelation be made available to the public.
  • Utah HB 67 requires regular updates to the state’s voter rolls. The county clerk must take the maintenance actions permitted or required by law no later than 90 days before each primary and general election.
  • Virginia HB 55 and SB 211 require the state registrar of vital records to provide weekly—rather than monthly—updates of deceased people to the Department of Elections and clarifies that registrations must be canceled “promptly.”

For comprehensive information on this year’s election legislation, including enactments, visit NCSL’s state election legislation database.

Amanda Zoch is a project manager in NCSL's Elections and Redistricting Program.

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