Q. Are these problems leading either to fraud or to efforts to keep eligible people from voting?
A. We have not seen evidence of that. These problems really are the result of an antiquated system — one that relies almost exclusively on 19th and 20th century technologies (paper and mail) to serve a 21st century, highly mobile society. About one in eight Americans moved during each of the 2008 and 2010 election years. Some Americans — including those serving in the military, young people and those living in communities affected by the economic downturn — are even more mobile.One in four voters assumes that election officials or the U.S. Postal Service updates registrations automatically with each move, even though that is almost never the case, and about half of all voters don’t know they can update their registration at a motor vehicles office.Election offices often are flooded with millions of paper registration applications from third-party voter registration drives right before Election Day, at a time when their resources are stretched the most.
- Even though the inaccuracies impact one in eight registrations, researchers at the Pew Center on the States said they don’t see it as an indicator of widespread fraud. Rather, they believe outdated systems are failing to keep pace with the most basic changes in people’s lives, feeding perceptions that U.S. elections are not as airtight as they could be. (Associated Press, Feb. 13, 2012)
- Mr. Becker warned that poor record-keeping at the registration stage is not evidence of fraud at polling places. “These bad records are not leading to fraud but could lead to the perception of fraud,” he said. (New York Times, Feb. 14, 2012)
- Experts say there’s no evidence that the errors led to fraud on Election Day. “The perception of the possibility of fraud drives hyper-partisan policymaking,” said David Becker, director of Pew’s election initiatives. But inactive voters do cost money. Inaccurate lists mean wasted money on mailings and extra paper ballots. (USA Today, Feb. 14, 2012)
- Still, David Becker, director of Pew’s Election Initiatives, said that the center’s findings did not suggest any kind of voter fraud or voter suppression from these problems but noted they do “underscore the need for an improved system.” (Politico, Feb. 14, 2012)
- There’s little evidence that this has led to widespread voter fraud, but it has raised concerns that the system is vulnerable. (NPR, Feb. 14, 2012)