Saturday, March 11, 2006

Cleaning Up Indiana's Voter Registration Lists

While the Indiana statewide voter registration system (SVRS), which is being developed by Indiana-based Quest Information Systems, took quite a beating during a series of investigative reports about the system by WISH-TV, Indiana Legislative Insight paints a much rosier picture.

WISH-TV reported problems with the system, which might result in a state-wide shutdown of the system during an election, or which might make registered voters vulnerable to identity theft. WISH-TV also reported that Secretary of State Todd Rokita may have played favoritism when he chose Quest over more qualified competitors.

There are many positive things to report on SVRS, notwithstanding WISH-TV's unflattering portrayal. According to Indiana Legislative Insight, there were more than 4.3 million voter records in SVRS as of late February. If you're concerned about honest elections, you will be pleased to learn that SVRS has identified 290,522 possible duplicate registrations. That's almost 7% of all registered voters! After SVRS linked to the Department of Health in February, 28,845 potential matches for deceased voters were identified. And a link to the Department of Corrections identified another 5,435 incarcerated voters who are ineligible to vote.

Adding new voters to the database was also enabled in February when SVRS was linked to the BMV, allowing 24,000 voter registrations to be added electronically. Indiana Legislative Insight points out that the BMV link will save county election administrators countless hours of sifting through paper voter cards.

The real test of SVRS' value will come in this May's statewide primary election. A mock election is being planned in mid-March to test "the overall readiness of the counties and the application to execute the primary election in May" according to the Indiana Legislative Insight. At least 79 counties plan to participate in the mock election.

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