STATE VOTER REGISTRATION DATABASES

IMMEDIATE ACTIONS AND FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS

INTERIM REPORT

Committee on State Voter Registration Databases

Computer Science and Telecommunications Board

Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
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State Voter Registration Databases Immediate Actions and Future Improvements Interim Report Committee on State Voter Registration Databases Computer Science and Telecommunications Board Division on Engineering and Physical Sciences

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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This project was supported by Contract No. 1406-04-07-CT-66599 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. International Standard Book Number 13: 978-0-309-11878-1 International Standard Book Number 10: 0-309-11878-6 Copies of this report are available from The National Academies Press 500 Fifth Street, NW Box 285 Washington, DC 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area) http://www.nap.edu Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Prepublication Document – Subject to Further Editorial Correction ii

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON STATE VOTER REGISTRATION DATABASES FRANCES ULMER, University of Alaska, Anchorage, Co-chair OLENE WALKER, State of Utah (retired), Co-chair RAKESH AGRAWAL, Microsoft R. MICHAEL ALVAREZ, California Institute of Technology CHARLOTTE CLEARY, Independent Consultant GARY W. COX, University of California, San Diego PAULA HAWTHORN, Independent Consultant SARAH BALL JOHNSON, Kentucky State Board of Elections JEFF JONAS, IBM Corporation JOHN LINDBACK, Office of the Secretary of State, Oregon BRUCE McPHERSON, State of California (retired) WENDY NOREN, Boone County Clerk’s Office WILLIAM WINKLER, U.S. Census Bureau REBECCA N. WRIGHT, Rutgers University SHARON PRIEST, Downtown Little Rock Partnership, resigned from the committee in December 2007 Staff HERBERT S. LIN, Study Director KRISTEN R. BATCH, Associate Program Officer MORGAN R. MOTTO, Senior Program Assistant BRANDYE WILLIAMS, Program Assistant v

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COMPUTER SCIENCE AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS BOARD JOSEPH F. TRAUB, Columbia University, Chair ERIC BENHAMOU, Benhamou Global Ventures, LLC FREDERICK R. CHANG, University of Texas, Austin WILLIAM DALLY, Stanford University MARK E. DEAN, IBM Almaden Research Center DEBORAH L. ESTRIN, University of California, Los Angeles JOAN FEIGENBAUM, Yale University KEVIN KAHN, Intel Corporation JAMES KAJIYA, Microsoft Corporation MICHAEL KATZ, New York University RANDY KATZ, University of California, Berkeley SARA KIESLER, Carnegie Mellon University JON KLEINBERG, Cornell University TERESA H. MENG, Stanford University PRABHAKAR RAGHAVAN, Yahoo! Research FRED B. SCHNEIDER, Cornell University DAVID E. SHAW, D.E. Shaw & Co. ALFRED Z. SPECTOR, Google, Inc. WILLIAM STEAD, Vanderbilt University ANDREW VITERBI, Viterbi Group, LLC PETER WEINBERGER, Google, Inc. Staff JON EISENBERG, Director KRISTEN R. BATCH, Associate Program Officer RADHIKA CHARI, Administrative Coordinator RENEE HAWKINS, Financial Associate HERBERT S. LIN, Chief Scientist MORGAN R. MOTTO, Senior Program Assistant LYNETTE I. MILLETT, Senior Program Officer DAVID PADGHAM, Associate Program Officer JANICE M. SABUDA, Senior Program Assistant TED SCHMITT, CSTB Consultant BRANDYE WILLIAMS, Program Assistant JOAN WINSTON, Program Officer For more information on CSTB, see its Web site at http://www.cstb.org, write to CSTB, National Research Council, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20001, call (202) 334-2605, or e-mail the CSTB at cstb@nas.edu. vi

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Preface In late 2006, the National Research Council (NRC) convened the Committee on State Voter Registration Databases. Supported by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the committee was charged with organizing a series of workshops and the preparation of an interim report addressing challenges in implementing and maintaining state voter registration databases and providing advice to the states on how to evolve and maintain these databases in order to share information with other states securely and accurately in fulfillment of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The committee’s charge is laid out in Box P.1. This report is an interim report to the Election Assistance Commission that outlines various challenges to the deployment of state voter registration databases and describes potential solutions to these challenges. Some of these solutions can be implemented prior to the November 2008 election; others will require a longer timeline for implementation and indeed some serious thought about how they might be implemented. This study was undertaken by a committee of 14 people with a broad range of expertise and backgrounds, including election operations, databases, computer and network security, and political science (see Appendix F)—such a range was necessary to address the topic of state voter registration in all of its organizational, technical, and political complexity. To put information on the public record quickly and to educate the committee, two workshops were held in August and November 2007, the agendas for which are provided in Appendix E. The committee has focused on shorter-term recommendations, both because that was what it was asked to do and because it had a limited time to develop an information-gathering record or to consider more complex, longer-term issues. However, on several issues the committee does provide a small number of long-range recommendations in this report. The committee’s final report will elaborate on the argumentation underlying the long-range recommendations and on the recommendations themselves as needed—and in particular will address considerations related to interstate interoperability of voter registration databases. The committee thanks those who participated in the first two workshops and contributed to the committee’s deliberations (listed in Appendix E). It also extends special appreciation to Brad Bryant for coordinating the participation of election officials in these workshops and to the National Association of State Election Directors for being willing to share with the committee the results of its 2007 survey of state election officials regarding their voter registration databases. Finally, the committee thanks the NRC staff for their work on this report. Herb Lin provided invaluable and expert assistance to the committee by sorting through comments and suggestions and by drafting the report with the committee’s guidance. Kristen Batch did a masterful job in organizing the workshops that served as the information basis for this report and in preparing the report for review. Jon Eisenberg, director of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, worked closely with the Election Assistance Commission to launch this study. Brandye Williams and Morgan Motto provided administrative support, and Radhika Chari provided overall administrative coordination. Frances Ulmer and Olene Walker, Co-chairs Committee on State Voter Registration Databases vii

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BOX P.1 Statement of Task An ad hoc committee will organize a series of workshops and prepare an interim report addressing challenges in implementing and maintaining state voter registration databases and providing advice to the states on how to evolve and maintain these databases in order to share information with other states securely and accurately in fulfillment of the Help America Vote Act of 2002. A series of workshops will explore issues including the following: • Lessons learned from intrastate voter registration database interoperability efforts • Technical approaches, processes and safeguards associated with identifying and removing duplicate registrations • Technical approaches and procedures for sharing voter registration data across state systems • Security issues that arise when sharing data among states, and technical and procedural approaches for addressing them. Discussions at the workshops, expert testimony, and committee deliberations will be used to prepare an interim report outlining challenges to achieving interoperability of state voter registration databases and related challenges facing states as they develop, maintain, and evolve their voter registration databases. The interim report will also describe potential solutions to these challenges and discuss specific timelines over which state and local election officials could implement possible solutions, including solutions that could be implemented prior to the 2008 Federal election. Additional workshops and committee deliberations will culminate in a final report that builds on the interim report by describing technical, procedural, and organizational impediments to full voter registration database interoperability and outlining a plan for achieving interstate interoperability of state voter registration databases. The final report will address such issues as: • What is the current state of voter registration databases across the states? • What functionality is useful for a state in checking its voter registration database against that of another state? • What are the main technical, procedural, and organizational impediments standing in the way of full interoperability? • What paths to interstate interoperability minimize technical risk and expense? viii

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Acknowledgment of Review Participants This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Elwyn R. Berlekamp, University of California, Berkeley, Brad Bryant, Kansas Secretary of State Office, Alan H. Davidson, Election Management Solutions, Inc., Morris P. Fiorina, Jr., Stanford University, Venkatesh Ganti, Microsoft Research, Lloyd J. Leonard, League of Women Voters of the United States, Deirdre K. Mulligan, University of California, Berkeley, Glenn Newkirk, InfoSENTRY Services, Inc., and Daniel P. Tokaji, Ohio State University. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Elsa M. Garmire, Dartmouth College. Appointed by the National Research Council, she was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. ix

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Contents SYNOPSIS 1 INTERIM REPORT 4 The Context for Voter Registration, 4 Key Processes for Voter Registration Databases, 4 Technical Considerations for Voter Registration Databases, 8 Immediate Actions Possible Before November 2008, 10 Possible Future Improvements That Will Require Longer-Term Action, 15 APPENDIXES A Background and Context 23 B Matching Records Across Databases 29 C Data Issues 41 D Security and Privacy 48 E Workshop Agendas 53 F Biographical Information 58 xi

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