Report highlights 'ramshackle' US vote registration system
The system for registering adult Americans to vote in local
and federal elections is such a mess, a new study has found, that the current
rolls of 'active voters' include nearly 2 million dead people.
The dysfunction in the system is laid out in a new report from the Pew Center on the States. Unlike most other western democracies, the US mostly relies on its citizens to take the necessary steps to register and there is scant use of modern data-matching technologies to keep the rolls up to date.
Thus while an estimated 93 per cent of eligible adults are correctly registered to vote in Canada, in the US roughly one in four people - about 51 million citizens - who should be able to vote are not registered. Anyone not registered will be refused ballots on election day. Meanwhile roughly one in eight voter registrations in the US are flawed in some way - inaccurate, out of date or duplicates.
"Voter registration is the gateway to participating in our democracy, but these antiquated, paper-based systems are plagued with errors and inefficiencies," said David Becker, Pew's director of Election Initiatives. "These problems waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence, and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections."
The scope for errors is especially large when it comes to people of high mobility, for instance military personnel, students and young people generally. Even if people know they are meant to re-register upon moving to a new state and remove themselves from the rolls of the state they have left they do not always make the effort to do so. Thus, according to the report, about 2.75 million voters are registered in more than one state.
The Democrats have taken a more aggressive stance recently in arguing for reforms to make the process easier for example allowing potential voters to register online. Republicans have historically been wary of any changes which they believe could open to doors to voter fraud, however. The Pew report does not suggest the breakdown of the system helps one party over the other.
"We have a ramshackle registration system in the US. It's a mess. It's expensive. There isn't central control over the process," said Lawrence Norden of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.
In some important swing states, like Ohio or Florida, the problem is less about voters failing to do the necessarily legwork but more about all the campaign volunteers who swoop in before election time to register as many new voters as they can with the result that many people register more than once. "Everybody's registering you here," noted Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. "We don't really have control of that."
- 1 Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Tory activist asked to step down after Labour candidate Rupa Huq is 'manhandled' while questioning Boris Johnson on the campaign trail
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
How the language you speak changes your view of the world
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...
£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...
£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...