Wisconsin evalution of voter registration turns up interesting implementation issues

The Wisconsin State Legislative Audit Bureau just issued a report documenting the findings of an evaluation of voter registration practices in Wisconsin. This audit evaluated voter registration requirements, address verification procedures, and practices used for updating voter registration lists. Wisconsin allows voter registration before election day in person, by mail, or with the assistance of an election official; eligible citizens can also register at poll sites on election day.

We’ve only begun to examine this report, but there are some interesting results to highlight.

First, their evaluation of eight election jurisdictions (Table 11) found that of the 348,176 registration records reviewed, 3,116 were identified by the audit team as being duplicates (0.9%). Across the eight jurisdictions, there was substantial variance: the City of Eu Clare had 2.6% of records reviewed identified as duplicates, while the Town of Minocqua had only 8 of 4,619 duplicates identified (0.2%).

Second, in six election jurisdictions reviewed, the audit team found 783 registrants who they identified as deceased (including 388 in the City of Madison); see Table 12.

Third, in six election jurisdictions studied, the audit team identified 453 registrants who were also identified as convicted felons (Table 13).

Fourth, in the six election jurisdictions examined, the audit team found 105 cases of “potentially improper or fraudulent voting in the November 2004 elections” (page 6):

  • 98 ineligible felons who might have voted.
  • 2 who may have voted twice
  • 1 underage voter
  • 4 absentee ballots cast by individuals who died before election day.

For more details of the potentially illegal votes, see pages 50-51 of this report.

The audit report also contains a series of recommendations to improve the voter registration process in Wisconsin, especially as that state moves to implement the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requirements for voter registration.

There is much here for further study, as undoubtedly we will hear much more about voter registration practices throughout the nation as states rush to implement the HAVA requirements by January 1, 2006.