Digital voting registration could solve many issues

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The U.S. system of voting registration is not known for being robust or strong.

On the contrary, it is known for being ineffective in registering the public at large, as well as inaccurate, costly, and obsolete. More than a million deceased are still on the voter rolls, and one of every eight voter registrations are either invalid or inaccurate. Another problem is the ease with which people can register in multiple states. Partially because of the system’s ineptitude, over 50 million eligible voters are not registered.

A big part of the problem is that the system is paper based, which is hard to update as voters change districts or move from state to state. Although this does not directly result in voter fraud, it does increase the system’s susceptibility.

The second problem with our system is the cost. It costs 12 times more to register a single voter in the U.S. than it does in Canada. Much of this cost is borne by state and local government budgets, money that could easily be better spent elsewhere.

The Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project estimated that one third of county and local election offices’ budgets is spent on voter registration alone.

This paper based system is also the biggest cause of inefficiency in our voting system. Computers could easily compare data of voting registrations between states to reduce the number of double registrations and registered deceased, which would make fraud much more difficult to execute.

A third issue is the sheer number of registrations that all come into the system in a short, concentrated period before election day. Recording all this new data through paper registration in a timely manner invites human error because all of it must be entered manually. This also results in people not being entered into the rolls in time, meaning many ballots that should be legitimate are thrown out.

I was affected by this, discovering this past Tuesday that my registration was botched, rendering me unable to vote in the primaries. This ample room for error affects our elections and affects the people who get elected and the type of government we have. Elections are supposed to demonstrate the will of the people, and our current system fails miserably.

To fix this system, data-matching methods should be implemented to catch multiple registrations and inaccuracies in the voter rolls. The process of registration must also be made cheaper by enabling Americans to register online, minimizing manual data entry by making the system electronic. It is time for our voting system to enter the 21st century.