News Update: Utah Gov’s Bipartisan Commission Unanimously Recommends Voter Registration Modernization to and registration.

All Voters Suffer

Doing everything right sometimes isn’t enough. Many voters who should be registered often wind up casting provisional ballots, which frequently go uncounted. In fact:

  • The Census reports that over 1 million people who were registered did not vote in 2004 because of problems with their registrations.
  • According to the Census Bureau’s post-election survey, in 2004, 9 million eligible Americans were not registered due to missed registration deadlines, lack of information about where or how to register, or permanent illness or disability.
  • According to the United States Election Assistance Commission ( EAC ), over 40% of all uncounted provisional ballots are rejected because of registration problems.

Eligible Americans, through no fault of their own, are turned away when it really counts – on Election Day. Voters who do everything they should are turned away from the polls because of problems of all sorts: long lines, inadequately trained poll workers, delays in the absentee balloting system or names being left off the rolls. The single largest factor in these problems is the registration system. Problems with processing paper registration forms and the inevitable backlog that happens because voter registration activity is concentrated in the last few weeks before registration deadlines force election officials to focus nearly all of their time and resources on getting people on the rolls. That leaves other critical functions – like preparing the polling places and poll workers for Election Day or processing absentee ballots – from getting accomplished effectively.

Our Service Members Suffer

Military service members and their families are blocked from voting by problems with our election administration system that arise at two basic points: voter registration and absentee balloting. While much attention has been paid to obstacles created by absentee ballot programs, voting problems for military voters often start with the registration system. In fact, the Director of the Federal Voter Assistance Program at the Pentagon recently said that “the military voter registration process is exceptionally complex…is tied in with the absentee ballot application process, and is subject to exceptional opportunities for errors.”

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Our Young People Suffer

Young voters came out in force in 2008, proving that they are not to be taken for granted. All eligible voters, regardless of age, should be able to and encouraged to participate in the democratic process. Yet young voters and students who are new to voting often find themselves left off the rolls because they move and are unfamiliar with the process.

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All Voters Suffer

Registration problems take a toll on every voter. At the polling place, each time a voter’s name is left off the rolls it takes poll workers time to track down the reason why that voter didn’t show up. During high volume times, these delays cause long lines, voter confusion and poll worker mistakes. Likewise, older voters and voters with disabilities are often forced to rely on an absentee ballot process that requires up-to-date registration rolls to effectively administer mail-in voting. If voter registration were modernized, we would eliminate the need to devote so many resources to registration quality control and data entry and be able to focus adequate resources on the other problems that disenfranchise eligible voters.

Back to The Case for Voter Registration Modernization