the necessary degree of agreement between the provided number and the DMV-recorded number,3 and if the necessary degree of agreement is not present, the application cannot be accepted by the state for purposes of a federal election. In practice, insufficient agreement between the two numbers prompts many jurisdictions to contact the applicant and ask for a more accurate DMV number, but most do not perform any other searching for the applicant.

If the applicant does not have a driver’s license, the applicant’s information (name, date of birth, and SSN4) is checked against the SSA database. (In practice, many DMVs handle the entire verification request. The election officials submit the verification query to the DMV, which may involve a driver’s license number or an SSN4. If the query involves a driver’s license number, the DMV responds directly to the election officials. If the query involves SSN4, the DMV passes the request to the SSA using the AAMVAnet, a private network established by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the response from SSA is passed back to the DMV through the same network. The DMV then communicates the response to election officials.)

In the context of a nonmatch in verifying information of a new applicant (i.e., the applicant cannot be found in the DMV or SSA databases), election officials may submit name variants in follow-up inquiries or contact the applicant so that he or she can provide additional information. In addition, HAVA Section 303(b) requires that an applicant who cannot be matched at all be allowed to vote on Election Day provided he or she can present appropriate identification at the polling place.


A second important function of a VRD system is to maintain the list of eligible voters, that is, to keep voter registration information current and to remove the names of ineligible voters and duplicate registrations from the voter lists. Jurisdictions must perform periodic list maintenance in accordance with provisions of the NVRA.4 Section 8 of the NVRA requires states to conduct a “general program that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of ineligible voters” at voter request or as a result of a felony conviction (presuming that state law directs removal of felons from voter registration lists), mental incompetence (again presuming that state law directs such removal), death, or change of residence outside the jurisdiction that holds the voter’s registration.

In addition, individual states use a variety of other databases and lists to indicate possible cancellations of voter registrations or changes of address. For example, election officials in Louisiana used a list of names, provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, of individuals claiming general assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; this list indicated the state in which these individuals had filed. Election officials in Alaska sometimes use the Alaska Permanent Fund Division distribution list (which includes all applicants who want to receive a payment from the state’s oil savings account earnings) to obtain current address information. Election officials in Massachusetts use the state’s annual census list to verify addresses. State tax records are also sometimes used to indicate who has entered and left the state.

In some cases, the state is responsible for performing list maintenance. In others, counties are responsible for list maintenance using data supplied by the state (from various state agencies).

The NVRA requires that any program of systematic removal of names of ineligible voters must be completed not less than 90 days prior to a federal election. This time limit does not apply to registration cancellations due to death, felony conviction, or judgment of mental incompetence, which may occur within 90 days of an election. In the case of address changes or a failure to vote in federal elections (but not in the case of death, felony conviction, or judgment of mental incompetence), the NVRA requires election officials to notify voters that their registration may be cancelled prior to such cancellation. The


For example, state law may allow a driver’s license number provided by the voter that has all of the correct digits but possibly with some of the digits transposed.


See 42 U.S.C. 1973gg et seq., including Subsections (a)(4), (c)(2), (d), and (e) of Section 8 of that act (42 U.S.C. 1973gg–6).

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