Election Fast Facts - July 2021
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
Election Day Registration – Part 2: Voting by Ineligible Voters
Last time we talked about Election Day Registration (EDR), what it is, and why it’s important to so many to people being able to cast a ballot on Election Day. One key fact about EDR – with EDR the vote of the person registering on Election Day is counted before the person’s eligibility to vote is verified.
How big a problem is it that the votes of those registering on Election Day are counted before they are verified to be eligible?
There is the potential that someone could be approved by Election Judges for registration as part of EDR and later be found to be ineligible. Potential reasons to be ineligible are:
Prior felony convictions where all terms or release have not been fulfilled; or
Failure to meet residency requirements.
To understand how big a problem this is based on the large number of people registering on Election Day, we can look at the 2016 General Election. That election is useful because the Minnesota Legislative Auditor performed an audit to see how many ineligible voters cast ballots in that election. (There generally is not good reporting for this at the state level as each county handles this separately.)
In the 2016 General Election 11.8% of those voting in person, over 353,000 people, used Election Day Registration.
The 2018 Legislative Audit identified 19 people (of 353,000) registered to vote on Election Day when eligible and for which criminal charges were filed. (A total of 54 people were found to have been ineligible to vote, with criminal charges filed in 35 cases. 19 of those 35 registered on Election Day.)
Bottom line: Less than 1 in 18,000 people who registered to vote in Election Day were found ineligible and criminally charged. That’s a rate of 0.0054%. How many of us can say we do anything with that level of assurance – less than one error in 18,000?
Reference: Program Evaluation Division, (March 2018), Voter Registration: 2018 Evaluation Report, Office of the Legislative Auditor, State of Minnesota, retrieved on May 27, 2021 as Voter Registration (state.mn.us)
Next Month: What are provisional ballots and why doesn’t Minnesota use them? (Hint: It’s not because everyone else had a better idea.)