[Image courtesy of NonProfitVote]
Last week’s Pew report about the state of the nation’s registration system has generated countless headlines across the nation. Most of those headlines, however, have focused on the inaccuracy of records already on the voter rolls – duplicate, incorrect and outdated entries for voters who may not still live within the affected jurisdiction if they are alive at all.
There is another story, however, which is just beginning to get more attention: the estimated 51 million eligible Americans who are not registered to vote.
To the extent that new programs to identify and register these unregistered Americans are successful, they could pose new challenges for an election system that is already stretched to its limit in a presidential election year.
The important takeaway from the 50 million-plus figure is that while much of the work to be done on America’s registration system will involve correcting and removing existing errors on the rolls – eliminating false positives, if you will – there will be just as much work (if not more) involved in eliminating false negatives and adding eligible but unregistered citizens to the rolls.