This bill would increase the accuracy of voter registration rolls by automatically updating a voter’s registration record if the voter provides a different address to the Virginia DMV during a licensing transaction. The voter would still have an opportunity to correct the change, if needed. By automatically syncing voter registration records with DMV records, Virginia can ensure cleaner voter rolls and dramatically reduce the cost of undeliverable election mail. This policy has been adopted across around ten states, including Kentucky, Colorado, and Michigan.
In Colorado, the policy has identified and updated an extra 200,000 outdated records per year. If Virginia’s success rate were similar, it could save taxpayers over a million dollars each cycle on undeliverable mail alone.
What’s happening under current law:
- Currently, the Virginia DMV asks registered voters during their licensing transactions if they want to update their voter registration. If a customer agrees and updates their voter registration information, the DMV transmits the updated information to the election officials, who update the registration record and mail the voter a confirmation notice.
- Too many many customers decline—even if their record is outdated—because they don’t realize that their record is out of date. Others say no because they are eager to finish their transaction, or unsure whether they have the time and correct documentation to proceed.
- The weakness of the current system is that it depends on the voter’s knowledge that their record is outdated and their willingness to take the time (while in the middle of another time-consuming bureaucratic task) to agree to update their record.
What would change under this bill:
- Under the bill, the Virginia DMV skips the question at the time of the DMV transaction. Instead, it first automatically detects whether the voter actually needs to update their record.
- It does this by automatically transmitting the lists of licensing customers who are registered voters to the Department of Elections. The Department of Elections and local general registrars would quickly and securely compare the DMV and registration records to determine whether the information that the voter provided to the DMV reflects a change to the registered voter’s address or name in their registration record.
- If the existing voter registration record matches, the accuracy of the record has been confirmed and no further action is taken.
- If the information that the voter gave to the DMV is different than the voter’s registration record (typically a changed address or surname), local general registrars would update the voter’s record in the statewide voter registration database to reflect the change.
- Local general registrars would then mail the registered voter a notice informing the voter of the change. The notice would provide the voter with the opportunity to decline the change by returning the notice, postage prepaid, or by completing an online voter registration update.
- This bill flips the default: instead of waiting for the voter to recognize the need for the change and take initiative to update their own record, the state leverages existing customer-provided data to proactively ensure the accuracy of its voter rolls.
- In addition to cost savings, the proposal saves election officials one of their most precious resources: staff time right before Election Day. Under the current system, voters often wait to update their record right before Election Day, when voting is top of mind. This leads to a crush of registration changes that election officials must process immediately prior to the election — sometimes requiring overtime or temporary staff. By automating the registration update process and linking it to DMV transactions, registration updates can be spread more evenly throughout the cycle.
This proposal complements ongoing efforts to revamp existing list maintenance efforts:
- In a post-ERIC environment, Virginia urgently needs new methods of continually verifying and updating voter data to ensure accurate voter rolls.
- The Department of Elections (ELECT) has implemented a number of new list maintenance activities, including its recent and ongoing efforts to identify cross-state movers by comparing voter rolls across states.
- This proposal is a companion to that work. It bolsters Virginia’s ability to identify intra-state movers by using information that Virginians are already providing to the state during motor vehicle licensing transactions.
- By automating and streamlining the address update process, the state can ensure that intra-state movers don’t leave outdated addresses on the rolls.
For more information, please contact Communications Manager Tony Franquiz at email@example.com.