When reporter Chris Papst with WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. moved to Virginia from Pennsylvania, he learned something interesting: because of lax laws, he was still registered to vote in both states and could easily have voted twice.
This experience, reported on Full Measure, made him realize our voting system has “some serious flaws.”
Linda Lindberg, director of elections and registrar in Arlington, Virginia, admits the voter registration issue is problematic, particularly when voters move between one state and another. Forms are licked, stamped, and mailed to the voter’s new state. “It’s a bit antiquated, this system, in a modern world,” she admits.
Lindberg says the process cannot keep pace with our increasingly mobile lives. When paper is still king, “a lot can go wrong.”
“That’s a big problem in the integrity of our voter rolls,” says Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. “There’s a huge amount of inaccuracy.
Kobach operates the Interstate Crosscheck, a collection of 28 states that share voter rolls. In 2014, the Crosscheck found 7.3 million voters were registered in multiple states. But since 22 states don’t participate – including California, Texas and Florida – that number is likely much higher.
Kobach says this inaccuracy increases the possibility of voter fraud. In his state in 2014, more than 100 people – a record – appeared to vote twice.
“You look at the larger group of 28 states and do the math,” says Kobach, “we’re talking about thousands of double votes.”
Allegra Chapman, director of voting and elections with Common Cause, disagrees.
“No. It just doesn’t happen,” Chapman states. Chapman leads national and state efforts to reduce barriers to voting and ensure that elections are run efficiently and fairly throughout the country.
She downplays the impact of double voting, but agrees the system needs to be modernized. “Everything we do is so tech-based, and so it just makes sense that we should be modernizing our election system to come into the 21st century.”
Pabst notes that 24 states plus the District of Columbia do have online voter registration; but there is no national database to check and see if people are registered in multiple states. Since he will shortly be moving to Maryland, he will find out next November if he could conceivably be registered to vote in three states.