The committee notes that enacting this recommendation may require legislation in many jurisdictions.

Recommendation S-9: Encourage entities sponsoring voter registration drives to submit voter registration forms in a timely manner to reduce massive influxes at the registration deadline.

Election offices can be overwhelmed by the mechanics of data entry if large numbers of voter registration applications must be processed in a very short time. Such a volume reduces the time for error checking or multiple attempts to verify voter information, and often forces election officials to hire inexperienced temporary workers for data entry. These conditions in turn are likely to increase the error rate of data entry and may invalidate more registration applications that would be the case if more time were available to handle the applications.

In addition, forms that are not processed (not entered into the relevant VRD) in a timely manner can cause confusion for the applicant. Election officials often have to deal with a large number of inquiries from applicants who filled out an application and gave it to someone weeks or months before. Seeking information about whether their applications have been received and processed, these applicants are often told that their applications are not in the system, and are encouraged to submit another application because the election officials do not know if the party collecting applications will actually turn in the form. This chain of events is frustrating for the applicant, and it causes more work and confusion (more duplicates) if and when the original form is eventually submitted.

Some states (e.g., Oregon) require third-party groups to submit applications to election officials within a certain number of days of collecting them. Nevertheless, imposing such requirements more broadly may entail politically controversial state legislation.

Recommendation S-10: Improve information sharing regarding best practices and lessons learned regarding VRD acquisition, operation, and maintenance.

Election officials in various states operate a variety of voter registration databases and face many different problems in acquiring, operating, and maintaining their databases. Election officials, and the technologists who support them, would be likely to find value in reports of best practices and lessons learned in the ongoing database enterprise. The content of such venues would logically include both process and substance knowledge. In the former category might be lists of state database administrators and their contact information, provided so that others might call to inquire about how various things are done within their jurisdictions. In the latter category might be data related to database performance or published procedures for list maintenance.

The committee thus recommends the establishment of continuing venues that could act as repositories of such wisdom. Such venues should be regular and continuing, either through face-to-face meetings and/or a Web site. In the committee’s view, the most logical focal point of action would be the National Association of State Election Directors.

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