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New Look at Modernizing Voter Registration

Numerous studies show in-person voter fraud is extremely rare. (Vox Efx/Flickr)
Numerous studies show in-person voter fraud is extremely rare. (Vox Efx/Flickr)
February 6, 2017

NEW YORK – Modernizing voter registration practices can register more voters and protect the integrity of elections, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice.

President Donald Trump has claimed that millions of people voted illegally in the November election. Though numerous studies show that in-person voter fraud is extremely rare, some states have passed voter ID laws that opponents say disenfranchise many eligible voters.

But according to report author Myrna Perez, director of the Brennan Center's Voting Rights and Elections Project, one big problem is outdated, inaccurate voter registration rolls.

"Addressing this problem will go a long way to getting more people on the rolls, and will be cheaper and easier to administer, and will make our elections more secure," she states.

The report, called "Election Integrity: A Pro-Voter Agenda," includes recommendations to improve the integrity of elections without creating obstacles to voting.

One way is to automatically register voters at state offices, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. Instead of asking people if they want to register, Perez says they can be given the choice to opt out.

"Before the transaction is completed, the voter is told, 'You have the opportunity to decline to register to vote, but if you don't decline, we're going to put you on the rolls,'" she explains.

The information would then be transmitted electronically to the board of elections rather than sending paper forms that have to be entered by hand.

The report acknowledges that nationwide, voter rolls contain millions of errors, including people who have died, or moved and registered in a new state.

Perez says it's important to remove invalid names, but it needs to be done carefully.

"When people call with problems about purges, it's because it was a sloppy purge that captured people who should have stayed on the rolls, and those are mistakes that we need to make sure we avoid," she stresses.

The report says the greatest threats to election integrity are not individual voters, but unsecured systems, including computerized voting machines that can be easily hacked.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY