Friday, October 31, 2008

New York's Voter Registration Database: Fact & Friction

We at Election Integrity: Fact & Friction are concerned primarily with the perils of electronic vote counting systems. However, there have been numerous concerns expressed throughout the year about New York's Voter Registration Database and the potential for voters to be incorrectly listed as:

  • Purged;
  • Inactive; or
  • ID Required (when in fact it is not).
While some of the reported numbers may have been exaggerated (e.g., it's not unusual for 10% of registered voters to actually be Inactive -- that's about a million), the questionable numbers are probably in the hundreds of thousands statewide all told, and therefore have the potential to disenfranchise lots of voters in various ways. After all, not unlike electronic vote counting, computers and software are involved!

And with all the new laws and high profile court cases about photo IDs and the like across the nation, how many New Yorkers actually know what kind of ID is required to vote in NY lately -- and when it does or does NOT have to be shown?

It's all very complicated! Too much to go into in a simple blog about electronic vote counting and risk-limiting post-election statistical audits like this one.

Fortunately, thanks to the folks at, who just happen to be New York election lawyers, we are happy to be able to point readers to this comprehensive compendium of the relevant NY election laws and regulations. And as with HAVA, ERMA and all the other stuff on the books, we advise anyone with an interest such things to read the law first, so you can have it on your side! As of this writing, you have three days to do so before the election!

So go to:

You can also check your registration in a copy of the NYS Voter Registration Database here:

and in the original database at the State Board of Elections here:

Finally, check with your County Board of Elections if you have any doubts or questions about your status. You can find contact information for them here:

After this election is over, we can get back to figuring out how to actually COUNT some votes -- and with luck, maybe all of 'em!

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