Accurate voter lists are essential to voter confidence in the electoral process. That’s why we recently focused a series of events, blogs, and other activities on helping state and local election leaders maintain accurate voter registration lists. Throughout the month of March and into April (we had so much good stuff to share that four weeks wasn’t enough!), we had the opportunity to hear and learn from election leaders at all levels who are trailblazing successful approaches to keeping accurate voter rolls that ensure election integrity. Some common guidance, observances and themes emerged. Below are our top ten takeaways:
- List maintenance is an ongoing process. Voter roll list maintenance is the backbone of elections and must be a continuous and collaborative effort between state election officials, local election officials, and voters.
- It’s important to measure success and make adjustments when necessary. So how do we know that these practices work? Election officials across the nation are measuring results in the list maintenance process to track their success. They turn to key indicators such as election mail returned as undeliverable and the number of provisional ballots used on Election Day to gauge effectiveness and make adjustments in real time.
- States have had great success using data sharing and other available tools to help keep records current. The data sharing toolbox is a very important resource for election officials to utilize in list maintenance. There are many tools to harness: The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), the Interstate Voter Registration Kansas Crosscheck Program, United States Postal Service (USPS) information, and other third-party resources.
- Voters need to be involved in the list maintenance process. Voters need to know that changes to their registration, such as a change of address are not automatic. Voters can be incredibly helpful by proactively in updating their registration information.
- Chain of command is a necessity. A good list maintenance effort operates on a well-functioning structured process, where information is shared up and down the chain.
- It’s important to make sure list changes are accurate. Election officials are committed to following a structured process of defined by state and national laws to ensure eligible voters are not inadvertently removed from the rolls.
- Election officials and IT managers must work hand in hand to ensure accurate registration lists. In our ever-changing technology environment, election officials must communicate closely with their IT managers.
- Election officials have a responsibility to make sure military and overseas voters are accurately reflected in their voter rolls. Given these voters can face unique challenges during the registration and voting process, officials should ensure an accurate list maintenance process in serving this population.
- It is crucial to frequently access USPS data to improve the accuracy of your voter rolls. For example, the National Change of Address list is published every two weeks.
- Online voter registration (OVR) helps list maintenance. An active OVR system helps the voter and election officials throughout the list maintenance process, getting rid of messy handwriting and having voters directly input their own information.
It’s a job that never ends. As EAC Chair Matt Masterson said during our recent list maintenance webcast, “For state and local election officials, list maintenance is not a once a year spring cleaning exercise but instead a constant process akin to doing laundry. Once you finish your ‘last load’ the hamper is full again and it’s time to start over.”
The EAC has been proud to present this month-long (plus) look at list maintenance and we thank all of you for engaging in this discussion. For more information about this month’s list maintenance activities, please see the following links:
List Maintenance Webcast
List Maintenance Fact Sheet