Date Published: 2016-04-03
Stephen Pettigrew, Harvard University
Charles Stewart III, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The accuracy of voter registration lists has been at the center of debates over improving election administration in the United States for over a decade. Inaccurate voter registration lists pose a problem for both those concerned about the convenient access of voters to the polls and for those concerned about voter fraud. Concern about list accuracy has led academics and advocates alike to scrutinize voter registration rolls to ferret out "deadwood" (Ansolabehere and Hersh 2013). (Deadwood in this case is defined as obsolete records, usually due to a person moving or dying. See Shaw, Ansolabehere, and Stewart 2015, p. 30.) When voter rolls include more names than eligible voters, a local jurisdiction is an easy target for those concerned about list accuracy.