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Improving State Voter Registration Databases: Final Report
and/or state law, possibly placing additional downstream burdens on the voter (such as having to verify information by mail or having to provide an ID when voting the first time).
Efforts to raise public awareness about the importance of legibility and fully completing voter registration forms would help to reduce the amount of illegible or missing information on these forms when they are submitted for data entry. Properly undertaken, these efforts to raise public awareness of this particular issue could be integrated with ongoing efforts to encourage people to register to vote. Jurisdictions could take some or all of the following specific steps:
Emphasize in the instructions for filling out voter registration forms the importance of legibility and completeness (for example, “Please print all responses; if your answers are illegible, your application may be mis-entered, rejected, or returned to you.”).2
Conduct media campaigns (perhaps undertaken by the Ad Council) emphasizing the importance of legibility and completeness in the information provided on voter registration forms.
Coordinate with third-party voter registration groups and public service agencies, emphasizing the need for their field volunteers to attend to legibility and completeness as they distribute and/or collect registration materials.
5.2 ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES
A variety of recommended administrative processes and procedures will also help to ensure higher-quality matching and increase voter confidence in VRDs. Note, however, that large volumes of registration forms usually need to be processed as registration deadlines approach, a workload that jurisdictions commonly rely on temporary staff to handle. Unless other arrangements are made to adjust workflow (such as ensuring that actions that require human judgment are routed to permanent staff), these temporary staff will, in many cases, have to carry out these recommended processes and procedures, suggesting that training them to do so will be necessary.
Recommendation S-2: Resubmit alternate match queries if the response returned from the SocialSecurity Administration or department of motor vehicles is a nonmatch.
An election official can use any additional information available to generate match variations for a given name. For example, a match might be sought on standard name variations (for example, Bill versus William), or transposed fields (for example, last name and first name), or compound names separated, or on a maiden name if available.
In practice, humans tend to submit only a few variations. Moreover, manual name rooting is likely to be inconsistent across different officials or even across the same official in different states of fatigue. For this reason, the committee has made a recommendation regarding the use of automated name rooting (Recommendation L-8), although implementing such functionality is difficult to do in a short time frame.
Finally, it may be possible to resolve a nonmatch result by direct contact with the voter, either by phone, in writing, or via e-mail.
Recommendation S-3: Provide human review of all computer-indicated removal decisions.
Because inaccuracies in data may lead to false matching by automated processes, the committee urges jurisdictions to provide a human review of each and every decision to remove a registered voter from a VRD. One step in human review is for a trained election official to examine every computer-indi-
Even the National Mail Voter Registration Form does not address this point.