RD332 - Virginia Department of Elections Annual List Maintenance Report – July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2014
The Department of Elections (ELECT) is pleased to report to the members of the Privileges and Elections Committees of the Virginia General Assembly in accordance with the Code of Virginia sections § 24.2-404 (F) and § 24.2-404.4 which requires the State Board of Elections (SBE) to report annually on each of its activities undertaken to maintain the Virginia voter registration system.
The SBE and ELECT are charged by federal and state law to maintain a central voter registration database. § 24.2-404 charges the SBE and ELECT with maintaining a “complete, separate, and accurate record of all registered voters in the Commonwealth.” Virginia was a leader in this area as one of the first states in the country to introduce a centralized voter registration database. In 2007, the state introduced the Voter and Election Registration Information System (VERIS) which expanded the database to include other processes handled by the SBE such as candidate and petition processing as well as list maintenance reporting. One such report is derived from VERIS and posted monthly on our website. The report documents Virginia’s registration statistics and can be found here: http://elections.virginia.gov/index.php/resultsreports/registration-statistics/
Virginia maintains its voter registration list through a variety of processes. Each of those processes is introduced below, along with references to the section of the Code of Virginia whereby ELECT and SBE derive their authority to conduct such activities.
Maintaining an accurate list of registered voters requires using a mix of General Fund and federal dollars granted to Virginia through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Virginia is soon to run out of the HAVA funds granted and these activities will need to be maintained solely with General Funds. For example, SBE spent $53,226 on vendor and printing costs for its 2013 confirmation mailing (described in detail below). SBE spent an additional $81,882 on postage to mail the federally required annual mailing. The next confirmation mailing went out in early July 2014. Postage costs are just under $153,000 for this mailing and printing costs are approximately $45,000 for the most recent mailing. ELECT also participates in the Electronic Registration Information Center Project (ERIC) and the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program which are also detailed below.
Virginia is a national leader in comparing our voter registration data against other states as evidenced by being one of only a few states to participate in both programs; however, our membership plus printing and postage for the mailings required for these programs cost in excess of $300,000 annually. These costs are tangible, but the increase in processes required to perform these list maintenance activities require hiring additional skilled technical staff which can process the data, analyze it, and provide it to the local general registrars through our central voter registration database. Other activities such as felon, death, and non-citizen maintenance activities are also discussed below and do not have a specific dollar figure attached, but require a significant portion of staff time.
ELECT relies heavily on local electoral boards, general registrars, and their staff to ensure an accurate list. More and more is being asked of our local voter registration offices to accurately and timely process data reviewed and analyzed by ELECT and loaded into the database. Our successes in maintaining our list would not be possible without their involvement and outstanding dedication and hard work.
Of note, on July 1, 2014, the Code of Virginia established the Department of Elections as a separate entity from the SBE. SBE and ELECT are used interchangeably throughout the report. During the timeline of the report however, ELECT did not yet exist.