Date Published: 2009-08-10
R. Michael Alvarez, California Institute of Technology
Jeff Jonas, IBM Entity Analytics
William E. Winkler, Bureau of the Census
Rebecca N. Wright, Rutgers University
Voter registration databases maintain lists of registered voters that are used to determine who is and is not eligible to vote in an election. As such, accurate voter registration databases form a cornerstone of the electoral process. In the United States, each state maintains its own voter registration database. It is not uncommon for a voter to become registered in two states, for example as a result of moving from one state to the other or of living in one state and working in one another.
In this paper, we report on a pilot interstate voter registration database matching project between the two states of Oregon and Washington whose goal was to explore the feasibility of using database matching to identify voters registered in the two states, and to do so with as much openness and transparency as possible. We describe the matching algorithms used, the procedures taken with found matches, and the resulting actions taken on actual voter registrations. We also discuss several directions for improving matching algorithms and procedures.