By Chad Selweski
With the help of Michigan Elections Director Chris Thomas, U.S. Rep. Candice Miller on Tuesday made the case on Capitol Hill that Congress must act to end millions of duplicate voter registrations nationwide from state to state.
In testimony, Thomas told the Committee on House Administration, chaired by Miller, that federal legislation is needed to clear up the confusion caused when voters maintain an old driver license in one state but declare their voter registration in another state.
A pending bill co-sponsored by Miller, former Michigan Secretary of State, and Rep. Todd Rokita, former Indiana Secretary of State, would require new state residents applying for a driver license to notify the state if they intend to use their new residency for the purpose of voting. If so, the legislation would mandate that the new state to notify the applicant’s previous state of residence so its chief election official can update voter lists accordingly.
“During (Tuesday’s) hearing, we heard about voters casting ballots in two states, states spending thousands to maintain duplicate registrations, and (a registration law that has) outdated provisions that prevent states from doing anything about it,” said Miller, a Harrison Township Republican.
Testifying in front of his former boss, Thomas, a veteran of the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office, said the federal rules should address those voters who are on the move. By allowing states to share information in a low-cost manner, up-to-date voter registration lists could be relied upon to easily identify and eliminate duplications and prevent potential voting irregularities.
“This amendment is a common sense adjustment to the National Voting Rights Act that protects voters who are only making temporary moves to another state while enabling states to more efficiently manage the voter registration file for the vast majority of applicants who are making a permanent move to a new state,” Thomas told the committee.
A February 2012 study commissioned by the Pew Center on the States found that approximately 24 million – one out of every 8 – voter registrations in the U.S. are not valid or are inaccurate, and approximately 2.7 million individuals have active registrations in multiple states.