Reports of ineligible persons registering to vote raised concerns about state processes for verifying voter registration lists. States base voter eligibility generally on the voter's age, U.S. citizenship, mental competence, and felon status. Although states run elections, Congress has authority to affect the administration of elections. The Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) sets a deadline for states to have a statewide voter registration list and list verification procedures. For this report, GAO selected seven states (AZ, CA, MI, NY, TX, VA, and WI) to represent a range of characteristics relevant to voter registrations, such as whether a statewide voter list existed prior to HAVA. This report discusses how these states verify voter registration eligibility; the challenges they face in maintaining accurate voter lists; the progress toward implementing HAVA registration requirements; and identifies federal data sources that might be used to help verify voter registration eligibility.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Justice||1. To assist state election officials in identifying individuals on voter registration lists who may be ineligible to vote because of their felon or non-citizen status, the Attorney General should direct the U.S. Attorneys to provide information on felony convictions in U.S. district courts in a more standardized format to make it easier for election officials to interpret the conviction information, such as the length of the sentence, and to help ensure information on felons is complete and timely.|
|Administrative Office of the United States Courts||2. To assist state election officials in identifying individuals on voter registration lists who may be ineligible to vote because of their felon or non-citizen status, the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts should determine the feasibility and steps necessary to implement a requirement that U.S. district court jury administrators provide notice to state election officials of potential jurors who identify themselves as non-citizens on their jury qualification questionnaire.|