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Research Report

Making the List: Database Matching and Verification Processes for Voter Registration

Published: March 1, 1977

Federal law now requires, as of January 1, 2006, that states create and maintain statewide databases to serve as the central source of voter registration information. Citizens ability to get on the rollsand thus their ability to vote and have their votes countedwill now depend on the policies and procedures governing the use of these databases in the voter registration process. Evidence demonstrates that poor policy and procedure choices could result in the unwarranted disenfranchisement of millions of eligible citizens attempting to register to vote. The new statewide databases, and their role in the voter registration process, are poorly understood, but extremely consequential.

This report is intended to serve as a resource for election officials, legislators, citizens, and advocates interested in safeguarding access to the franchise and making effective use of the new statewide databases. We hope that the information in this report will contribute to greater understanding of the policies states are currently contemplating to govern the voter registration process, as well as the best policy options available.