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Report: Errors Plague Voter Registration Across U.S.

By Bryan Warner

RALEIGH - Voter registration systems across the country are out of date, inefficient and rife with errors, according to a new report from the Pew Center on the States.

Some 1.8 million deceased individuals are still listed as active voters and 2.75 million Americans are registered to vote in more than one state, according to the report. About 12 million voter registration records contain erroneous address information.

“Once duplicates among categories are eliminated, approximately 24 million registration records, or nearly 13 percent of the national total, are estimated to be inaccurate or no longer valid,” the report states.

The study also finds that 24 percent of the eligible U.S. voting-age population is not registered to vote, compared to just 9 percent of the eligible Canadian voting-age population.

According to Pew, members of the military and young voters are most susceptible to registration errors, given their propensity to move throughout the country or, in the case of the armed forces, to be deployed overseas.

Many voters are unaware of problems with the system. One in four assume that the U.S. Postal Service automatically updates their registration status when they move, although that is seldom, if ever, the case. Instead, voters who change residences within two years of an election are most likely to encounter registration problems.

In addition to widespread errors within voter registration systems, the report also finds the current processes inefficient and costly.

As governments look for cost-savings during tough economic times, the Pew report highlights Maricopa County, AZ, which saved taxpayers $1 million over five years by allowing voters to register online. Registering online cost the county 3 cents per voter, compared to 83 cents per voter that registered using paper forms.

In order to address deficiencies in the nation’s voter registration processes, the Pew study recommends that states compare registration lists with other data sources and use data security protocols to ensure accuracy. The report also calls for developing ways for voters to register electronically, in order to diminish error-prone manual entries and to reduce costs.