With 50 states and nearly 130 million votes in 2012, a significant amount of voter data is assembled across state lines, however; of all this data collection only three entities are checking for illegal duplicate voting. While True the Vote, an organization to sustain democratic elections, found that at least 300,000 people are double registered in two states and could potentially vote twice.
The cause is a complete lack of interstate communication reinforcing the ability to commit fraud.
True the Vote and Pew Research both use a system entitled the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) which collates registration data from states in order to check for fraudulent registration. ERIC reports that 1 of 8 registration records are not accurate, opening the door to fraud. ERIC checks through several levels of state databases in order to find discrepancies and notify the state.
Yet only 21 states have joined the ERIC effort, leaving 29 states completely absent from the data. While a voter attempting to register in both Virginia and Maryland would receive a letter to select the registration they are keeping, a voter attempting to register in both Virginia and Florida would be fine under the ERIC system.
Even the rivalling system created by the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, called the Interstate Crosscheck or “The Kansas Project” collects data from 35 opted-in states, still leaving 15 unprotected. In 2012 six cases of deliberate double voting were sent to the FBI due to the Kansas Projects efforts.
Even these databases face significant challenges in receiving information, not because of voter inaccuracies, but states’ unwillingness to assist with up to date information. In an interview with True the Vote representative Logan Churchwell, he described the challenge of facilitating communication between states. Often states charge significant amounts for voter data, do not have in-house safeguards to duplicated voter registrations, and rely on slow, mail driven campaign to encourage the removal of second registrations that can take years.
For example, a Pew Research report coupled with analysis from the United States Elections Project showed that while a Washington D.C. voter list is 2 dollars, an Arizona list is 32,500 dollars. It would cost a U.S. citizen 126,482 dollars to purchase all the voter lists available nationwide. Yet all this is still considered public information.
Just as a voter registration “official” encouraged me to vote twice for Hillary Clinton in Virginia and Florida, if one state is not part of these databases or was slow to catch up to a fraudulent voter, it would seem almost anyone could vote twice.
As Churchwell explains, while a significant amount of the duplicate registrations are individuals moving homes or passing away, there is an available and unknown threat of voter fraud which can be detrimental in elections. He made clear, True the Vote does not advocate for a national federalized election system, but rather for each state to enact their responsibility to provide a fair election process.
When the union between these databases and governments occur, success has already been proven. True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht said in a September 2015 press release,
Now, ahead of an incredibly consequential 2016 election cycle… North Carolina is helping to break a national cycle of carelessness by using True the Vote research to clean up voter rolls in ten of its largest counties… in just the past few weeks [we] found thousands of clearly duplicated voter registrations in North Carolina. Our goal now is to collaborate with these North Carolina counties to ensure that legitimate voters are registered once — and only once.”
Maintaining free and fair elections is a primary responsibility of state governments, but the high costs and slow responses of states to the problem of voter duplication opens a clear avenue for fraud. States who reject to even become members of the database successfully neglect the reality of fraud, by pretending the issue does not exist.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.