Harrisburg, PA – Last week, Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s Auditor General released his findings in an audit of Pennsylvania’s voter registration records at the request of the Department of State.
The Auditor General reported that he found more than 50,000 cases of potentially inaccurate voter records in the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE).
DePasquale said that these findings show the Department of State has to work harder on the accuracy of voter registration records. “My audit team found too many instances of potentially bad data and sloppy record keeping that requires guidance from the state to help counties resolve issues throughout the year.”
Although Pennsylvania counties own voter registration records, federal law requires the state to ensure the data held by the SURE system is accurate and secure.
DePasquale said that his team had found several key issues that he concluded means the Department of State isn’t doing enough to ensure each county’s work is accurate and without data errors.
His key findings were as follows:
- Weaknesses in the voter registration application process and the maintenance of voter records in the SURE system resulted in instances of potentially inaccurate voter record information.
- Data analysis identified tens of thousands of potential duplicate and inaccurate voter records, as well as nearly three thousand records for potentially deceased voters that need to be verified.
- A combination of a lack of cooperation by four county election offices and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), as well as source documents not being available for the majority of test samples, inhibited the ability to verify the accuracy of most records tested during the audit.
- The Department of State must continue to implement leading information technology security practices and information technology controls to protect the SURE system and ensure the reliability of voter registration records.
- Incorporating edit checks and other improvements into the design of the replacement system for SURE will reduce data errors and improve accuracy.
The Auditor General’s team provided 50 recommendations to improve accuracy and management records of the Department of State for this issue, including working with counties to resolve records management issues such as duplicate voter records.
“We found that different counties tend to approach this job in different ways,” DePasquale said. “Some counties review voter registration records for accuracy daily or weekly, but others perform reviews only occasionally – and that must change. The Department of State needs to provide clearer guidance to help counties ensure the accuracy of voter records.”
Due to the SURE system being more than 15 years old, a new system shall soon be in place and DePasquale believes that “The new system will be stronger as a result of our work.”
DePasquale also recommended that Pennsylvania voters check their own voter registration data online using the “Check your registration status” link at www.VotesPA.com.
This is in addition to him urging Pennsylvanians to be alert to continuing efforts by foreign entities to influence our elections through the spread of disinformation and propaganda. “Please resist the urge to further spread disinformation, especially on social media where it is so prevalent,” DePasquale said. “Before clicking ‘share,’ please take the time to verify the information by seeking out facts from trusted, reliable sources.”
The entire SURE audit report as well as more information about the Department of the Auditor General can be found at www.PaAuditor.gov.