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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.