Voter registration provides a mechanism for election officials to reliably identify persons casting ballots, and ensuring both that ineligible voters do not cast illegal votes, and that eligible voters only vote once.² The accuracy of these lists is critical to ensure that election officials can eliminate the possibility of fraudulent votes compromising the security of our elections.³ When a registered voter dies, moves or changes their address, is convicted of a disqualifying crime, or is adjudicated to be mentally incompetent, their ineligible status should be reflected by their removal from the voter registration list. Congress recognized the importance of voter registration list maintenance by enacting legislation directly addressing how states should conduct their list maintenance activities.4
While there are both state and federal laws in place that require states to keep their voter registration lists up to date, studies have shown that the systems used are plagued with errors and inefficiencies.5 When voter registration lists are poorly maintained, duplicate registrations, inaccurate addresses and other errors open the door to massive numbers of fraudulent registrations and cast ballots. This issue becomes even more important when states send absentee ballots to all voters on their voter registration list – in the 2020 Presidential Election, research showed that over 92,000 mail ballots were sent to incorrect addresses in Nevada alone.6
To ensure that the United States’ voter registration lists are doing what they are supposed to do and ensuring that eligible voters are voting legally and ineligible voters are not casting illegal ballots, the states must ensure that their voter registration lists are regularly and carefully maintained for accuracy. ACUF’s Center to Protect Voters & Their Voices believes that annual roll audits, cross-checking the rolls against the Death Index and other states, removing ineligible individuals, and making public the list of individuals removed from the rolls and the reasons for removal should be implemented throughout the United States to ensure effective and transparent voter registration list maintenance for the safeguarding of our elections.
²Sarah J. Eckman, Voter Registration Records and List Maintenance for Federal Elections, Congressional Research Service (October 21, 2021) https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46943.
³Voter Rolls, America First Policy Institute (August 19, 2021) https://americafirstpolicy.com/latest/voter-rolls.
4Voter Registration List Maintenance, National Conference of State Legislatures (October 7, 2021) https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-list-accuracy.aspx.
5Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient: Evidence That America’s Voter Registration System Needs an Upgrade, The PEW Center on the States https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/legacy/uploadedfiles/pcs_assets/2012/pewupgradingvoterregistrationpdf.pdf; Clean Up America’s Voter Rolls, Honest Elections Project (December 4, 2019) https://www.honestelections.org/clean-up-americas-voter-rolls/.
692K Clark County NV Mail Ballots Went to Wrong Addresses in 2020 Presidential Election, Public Interest Legal Foundation (March 10, 2021) https://publicinterestlegal.org/pilf-files/NV-2020-General-1P.pdf.