RD366 - Virginia Department of Elections Annual List Maintenance Report – September 1, 2018 – August 31, 2019
In accordance with the Code of Virginia § 24.2-404 (F) and § 24.2-404.4 (C), 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 for viewing on the ELECT website: http://www.elections.virginia.gov/resultsreports/registration-statistics/index.html Virginia maintains its voter registration list through a number of different processes. Each of those processes is introduced below along with the relevant statutory references.
Previously, costs associated with maintaining an accurate list of registered voters were 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 were exhausted in Fiscal Year 2018 and all list maintenance costs are now covered by state funds.
ELECT strives to make Virginia a national leader in the practices of list maintenance. This requires ongoing cooperation with many other states, including neighboring states, by sharing list information and voter registration data. This cooperation is streamlined through Virginia’s participation in the Electronic Registration Information Center (“ERIC"), a nationally recognized voter file list maintenance partnership. The partnership agreement for this organization ensures that the data is properly managed and requires certain practices of each partner state related to improving data quality. This program membership and associated mailing costs generally result in an excess of $300,000 in expenditures per year. The membership costs are less than the costs which would be incurred 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. While these activities do not have a specific dollar figure attached, they require a significant allocation of staff resources. These costs will be offset in upcoming years with the formation of the new list maintenance team that was authorized and funded by the General Assembly starting Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.
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 Commonwealth process thousands of voter registration transactions per month. Virginia’s continued exceptional performance in list maintenance activities would not be possible without their involvement and outstanding hard work and dedication.