National Academies Report on Voter Registration: Recommendations

Here’s the key recommendations from the NAS report on voter registration, “State Voter Registration Databases: Immediate Actions and Future Improvements, Interim Report:


• Raise public awareness about the legibility and the completeness of voter registration card information. Jurisdictions could take some or all of the following specific steps:

-Emphasize in the instructions for filling out voter registration forms the importance of legibility and completeness (for example, “Please print all responses; if your answers are illegible, your application may be mis-entered, rejected, or returned to you.”).
-Conduct media campaigns emphasizing the importance of legibility and completeness in
the information provided on voter registration forms.
-Coordinate with third-party voter registration groups and public service agencies,
emphasizing the need for their field volunteers to attend to legibility and completeness as they distribute and/or collect registration materials.


• Resubmit match queries if the response returned from the Social Security Administration or department of motor vehicles is a nonmatch.
• Provide human review of all computer-indicated removal decisions.
• Improve the transparency of procedures for adding voters and for list maintenance.
• Use fill-in online registration forms.
• Perform empirical testing on the adequacy of processes for adding to and maintenance of lists.
• Take steps to minimize errors during data entry.
• Allow selected individuals to suppress address information on public disclosures of voter registration status.
• Encourage (but do not require) entities sponsoring voter registration drives to submit voter registration forms in a timely manner to reduce massive influxes at the registration deadline.


• Develop and promote public access portals for online checking of voter registration status.
• Encourage/require departments of motor vehicles as well as public assistance and disability
service agencies to provide voter registration information electronically.
• Encourage/require departments of motor vehicles, public assistance and disability service agencies, tax assessors, and other public service agencies of state and local government in their communications with the public to remind voters to check and update their information.
• Improve matching procedures.
• Establish a software repository of tested matching algorithms.
• Provide voter registration receipts to improve administrative processes.
• Allow voters to register and to update missing or incorrect registration information online if a signature is already on file with a state agency.
• Develop procedures for handling disenfranchisement caused by mistaken removals from
voter registration lists.
• Improve the design of voter registration forms.