Pew Center on the StateS
INACCURATE, CoSTly, ANd INEICIENT
One reason for these problems is that manyof us are unlikely to live in one votingprecinct all our lives:
About one in eight Americans movedduring the 2008 and 2010 electionyears.
Some Americans—including thoseserving in the military, young people,and those living in communitiesaffected by the economic downturn—are even more transient. For example,census and other data indicate that asmany as one in four young Americansmoves in a given year.
At a time when government budgets aresignificantly strained, our antiquated paper-based system remains costly and inefficient.
A study Pew conducted with Oregonfound that, in 2008, state and localtaxpayers spent $4.11 per active voterto process registrations and maintaina voter list, or $7.67 per transaction(new or updated registrations).
Canada, which uses moderntechnology to register people aswell as data-matching techniquescommon in the private sector,spends less than 35 cents per voterto process registrations, and 93percent of its eligible population isregistered.
Maricopa County, AZ—whichincludes Phoenix and has a largerpopulation than 23 states—savedmore than $1 million over five yearsby providing online voter registration,reducing the county’s dependence onpaper and manual data entry. Printingcosts were reduced 75 percent. Eachonline registration costs an average of 3 cents to process, compared with 83cents per paper form.
These findings underscore the needfor states to improve accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency. As described in the previous report,
Upgrading Democracy: Improving America’sElections by Modernizing States’ VoterRegistration Systems
, Pew is workingwith election officials, academics, andtechnology specialists to help statesimprove their registration systems.Participating states will establish newways for voters to submit informationonline and join together to compareregistration lists with more datasources, using proven, secure matchingtechniques and technology to increasedata accuracy.
nearly 1 in 4
eligible citizensare not registered to vote.
That’s more than
of the eligible population.