Olympia…Secretary of State Sam Reed detailed the progress of the first year of Washington's consolidated statewide voter registration system of the state's approximately 3.2 million registered voters.
In 2006, the statewide system consolidated all 39 separate county systems into one database substantially decreasing opportunity for fraud in Washington's elections. The database allowed election workers to identify and cancel the following registrations:
• 39,814 duplicate voter registrations, most often created when a voter moves across county lines and forgets to notify his or her local election office. The voter re-registers as a new voter while their outdated registration record remains on file. Screenings for duplicate registrations are automatically conducted each day, and reports of duplicate registrations are generated for the counties. The counties confirm each record before canceling the duplicate registration.
• 40,105 deceased voter registrations. Each month the database screens for names of the deceased against databases from the Department of Health and the Social Security Master Death Index.
• 4,500 felon voter registrations. A screening for the names of felons is conducted quarterly, using a list from the Department of Corrections to identify possible matches and notices from County Clerks to County Auditors. Potential matches generated from the Department of Corrections list receive a notification letter, giving the person 30 days to respond.
• 91,954 active and inactive voter registrations, because voters move to other states or request cancellations of their voter registrations.
"Without question, this database has improved the integrity of Washington's voting process," said Reed. "In one year we have learned a lot, but we aren't done yet. We will continue to work to restore trust and confidence in elections."
In January of 2007, the Office of the Secretary of State launched a Data Integrity Program to further search the voter registration database for possible double voting, duplicate registrations and missing information. Each month, election staff reviews the database and researches each possible match. Staff also identifies voter registration records with missing information and assists the counties in collecting correct information.
Following each primary and general election a screening of the database is conducted to identify possible double voters. In January a search of the November 2006 General Election identified a total of 61 pairs of records that appeared to be matches. Staff researched and discovered that 56 pairs were different people with distinct identifying information. Of the five remaining pairs, all but one pair has been resolved as involving different people.
The five remaining situations were resolved as follows.
One voter appeared to be a possible double voter in Clallam County and Skagit County. This person was found to have not voted in Clallam County. The registration has been corrected so the voter is now only registered in Skagit County.
In Spokane County a possible double voter was determined to be two separate people with the same name and date of birth.
One voter appeared to have voted in both Pierce and Whatcom Counties. Both counties later determined that these are two separate voters.
In King County two cases were investigated. One case was determined to be two separate voters; the other has been forwarded to the Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
"The counties and election staff have gone to great lengths to help ensure the accuracy of the state's voter registration list," said Reed. "Washington's election community is committed to protecting each citizen's civic duty to vote and fighting against fraud."
Launched on January 1, 2006, the statewide voter registration database helps to improve the accuracy of elections and prevent opportunity for fraud. Under Reed's leadership, a law was passed in 2002 clearing the way for a statewide voter registration database. The database later became a federal mandate required in all 50 states to address issues raised by the 2000 Presidential election.
The consolidated statewide system has improved maintenance of the state's voter registration rolls across county lines. Prior to its implementation, each county conducted regular maintenance procedures for its own voter registration list. This included periodically identifying registered voters who moved, changed their names, passed away, or were convicted of felonies.