By Bre Payton | Watchdog.org
CHINO HILLS, Calif. — California doesn’t know how many of the state’s voters are registered to vote in other states.
Watchdog.org reported last week that more than 6.9 million Americans are registered to vote in two or more states, but that included data from just 28 states and failed to include any information from some of the largest ones, such as California.
Why? California doesn’t have a statewide database. In fact, it’s the only state in the U.S. without one. Instead, voter rolls are maintained at the county level, until a statewide database is completed. The VoteCal database is anticipated to launch sometime in 2016. The contracting company — CGI Technologies and Solutions, an arm of CGI Federal — happens to be the same company that botched the Healthcare.gov site.
Don’t know, barely care. Bre Payton explains the trouble with counting voters in California.
“If California was included (in the interstate voter check) those numbers would really jump,” said Ellen Swensen, chief analyst at the Election Integrity Project, a volunteer organization that works to protect fair and honest elections in California.
Some 38.3 million people live in California, and that number grows by 1,000 each day. The sheer size of California’s population, combined with an already messy system of voter rolls and the fact the state doesn’t purge people who move to another state, would force a spike in that 6.9-million figure, Swensen said.
EIP analyzed the voter data of California’s 10 most populous counties that comprise 55 percent of the electorate. It found inconsistencies in the methods from county to county, outlined in a recent report.
EIP estimated 7,300 people appear to be registered in two different counties.
Aside from list integrity, Pete Peterson, Republican candidate for secretary of state, said joining an interstate collaborative has other benefits.
“It saves money (because it) allows you to clean up your absentee voter rolls,” Peterson said. “We mail out hundreds of thousands of ballots to people who are no longer living or are no longer living in the state. “
It could also potentially boost voter participation.
“It offers states a proactive opportunity to engage qualified voters and invite them to register as soon as they move into the state,” he said. “It enables states to proactively mail out postcards encouraging them to register.”
Two damaging potential behaviors can result from not being a part of an interstate voter check. ”
A person can vote in two states if a voter is inclined, or they can be impersonated in those states,” Swensen said.
If elected, Peterson would be in charge of ensuring that VoteCal is finished. It would be his first priority, he said, as well as a multi-state collaborative. Peterson said that looking into the process leading up to CGI securing the VoteCal contract would be another top priority.
CGI Technologies and Solutions was the only company to bid on the project, due largely to narrow state requirements. In fact, the request for proposal from the state was more than 500 pages.
Bre Payton can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @bre_payton.