RD335 - Virginia Department of Elections Annual List Maintenance Report – July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017

Executive Summary:
In accordance with the Code of Virginia § 24.2-404 (F) and § 24.2-404.4, the Department of Elections (ELECT) is pleased to provide to the members of the Privileges and Elections Committees of the Virginia General Assembly the Annual List Maintenance Report which details the list maintenance activities undertaken to maintain the Virginia voter registration system.

ELECT is charged by federal and state law to maintain a central voter registration database. Va. Code § 24.2-404 charges ELECT with maintaining a “complete, separate, and accurate record of all registered voters in the Commonwealth.” As one of the first states in the country to introduce a centralized voter registration database, Virginia has consistently been a forward-thinking leader on list maintenance issues. In 2007, the state introduced the Voter and Election Registration Information System (VERIS), which expanded the database and enabled ELECT to handle other processes such as candidate and petition processing as well as list maintenance reporting. One of the many data reports available from VERIS is the Registration Statistics Report, which provides detailed numbers of registrants based on registration method and broken down by locality. These reports are posted monthly and are available on our website: http://www.elections.virginia.gov/resultsreports/registration-statistics/index.html

Virginia maintains its voter registration list through a large number of different processes. Each of those processes is introduced below along with the relevant statutory references. Following the introductory section are detailed voter registration statistics reports created by VERIS based on information entered by local general registrars.

Currently, costs associated with maintaining an accurate list of registered voters and the statewide voter registration system are paid for with a mix of General Fund and federal dollars granted to Virginia through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). The federal HAVA grant funds will be exhausted in Fiscal Year 2018. Accordingly, all future list maintenance costs must be paid for by state funds.

Virginia is recognized as a national leader in the area of list maintenance for many reasons. One important reason is Virginia’s ongoing cooperation with many other states, including neighboring states, in sharing voter registration data and list information. This cooperation is streamlined through Virginia’s participation in both of the two nationally recognized voter file list maintenance partnerships in the country: the Electronic Registration Information Center (“ERIC”) and the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program (Crosscheck). The partnership agreements for these organizations ensure that the data is properly managed and place certain requirements on each partner state related to improving data quality. These program memberships and associated mailing costs generally result in an excess of $300,000 in expenditures per year. These memberships costs are less expensive than the costs which would be incurred by ELECT if ELECT were required to create and manage an in-house program resulting in the same quality of data. Other activities such as felon, death, and non-citizen maintenance activities are also discussed below and do not all have a specific dollar figure attached, but require a significant portion of staff time. The centralization of list maintenance activities reduces the cost and burden to local election officials, increases the accuracy of the voter registration list, and ensures uniformity across the Commonwealth in conducting proper list maintenance.

In addition, ELECT relies heavily on local electoral boards, general registrars, and their staff to ensure an accurate list. With the ultimate authority to retain, remove or update voters on the voter list, general registrars across the state process thousands of voter registration transactions per month, including removals. Virginia’s continued exceptionalism in list maintenance activities is not possible without their involvement and outstanding dedication and hard work.