Two million dead Americans set to vote

Voters arrive to cast their votes in the Republican presidential primary in a garage at the "Johnny Davis Home" polling station on January 21, 2012 in Hampton, South Carolina. (John Moore/Getty Images/AFP)
Don’t be surprised if your polling place looks surprisingly dead this year.

A new study reveals that the US voter registration system is riddled with inaccuracies, including erroneous records that reveal that nearly 2 million deceased Americans are able to cast a ballot.

“Inaccurate, costly and inefficient” is how the DC-based Pew Research Center describes the American voter registration system. In a report published by the group this week, they highlight a bevy of barely-believable factoids identified in their findings, including — among other items — that 1.8 million deceased Americans are still listed as active voters.

Elsewhere in their report, Pew reveals that the voter registration information for around 24 million Americans — or one of every eight — is in some form or another “significantly inaccurate.” Around a quarter of the United States’ eligible voters are also not even registered.

To blame, suggests the researchers responsible for the study, are out-of-date technologies that are highly costly to maintain while at the same time being susceptible to mistakes.

“Our democratic process requires an effective system for maintaining accurate voter registration information,” write the researchers. “Voter registration lists are used to assign precincts, send sample ballots, provide polling place information, identify and verify voters at polling places and determine how resources, such as paper ballots and voting machines, are deployed on Election Day. However, these systems are plagued with errors and inefficiencies that waste taxpayer dollars, undermine voter confidence and fuel partisan disputes over the integrity of our elections.”

A highly transient lifestyle enacted by young voters as well as dire economic conditions bestowed on others is also to blame, report Pew, who suggest that high-mobility in America, voluntary or not, makes it difficult for the system to keep up to date with who’s living where. Largely relying on a paper system only adds frustration to the equation, they write, as well as dollars. In Canada, where more high-tech devices are used to track voting systems, the country spends fewer than 35 cents for each voter to process registrations. In the US state of Oregon, however, officials there spend roughly 12 times that amount.

Not only is Canada’s system cheaper — but it is also more reliable. Pew reveals that 93 percent of its eligible population is registered to vote, a proportion which is practically triple the US rate.

David Becker, director of Pew’s Election Initiatives, adds that voter registration is the “gateway to participating in our democracy,” but due to hoops and obstacles added by an antiquated bureaucratic system that relies more on pen and paper than bytes and bits, that portal is near impossible to navigate. As a result, millions of Americans do not bother to even attempt the registration process — and those that do make it that far fail to do so with accuracy. The result is a voting population that represents barely a quarter of the country — and around 2 million dead guys.