Election Boards conduct voter list maintenance
Published 5:00 pm Friday, March 24, 2023
In 2023, county boards of elections across North Carolina will conduct several important and required processes designed to keep the state’s voter rolls accurate and up to date.
These routine processes are required by state and federal laws. Accurate voter rolls are maintained by removing voters who have moved or died or are otherwise ineligible to vote in that jurisdiction. Voter roll list maintenance is important because it ensures ineligible voters are not included on poll books during elections.
As a result of these processes, the number of North Carolina voter registrations will decrease in the first half of 2023. As of February 25, about 7.2 million voters were registered in the state, down from more than 7.4 million on January 1.
Per the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the following data on voter rolls in Gates County was recorded on Feb. 25:
American Indian: 16
Native Hawaiian: 0
The following are details about a few of the many list maintenance processes that county boards of elections will complete in 2023:
Early in every odd-numbered year, if a county board of elections has had no contact with a voter for the previous two statewide general elections and the voter has not voted during that time, the county board will send the voter a forwardable address confirmation mailing. The voter will be required to return the confirmation mailing within 30 days.
If the voter does not return the mailing or the U.S. Postal Service returns it to the county board as undeliverable, then the voter’s record will be marked “inactive” in the state’s voter registration database. Inactive voters are still registered voters. If an inactive voter shows up to vote, the person will be asked to verify their address and update it, if necessary.
County boards will send mailings this year to voters with whom there has been no contact since October 9, 2020. Counties have begun printing and mailing these notices, which must go out by April 15. The registrations of these voters will be canceled if they do not vote or otherwise confirm their registration by January 2027.
County boards of elections also have begun to remove certain “inactive” voters from the rolls. Voters will be removed from registration lists this year after being sent a no-contact mailing in 2019. Any voter removed in this way would not have had any contact with their county board of elections for four consecutive federal election cycles, not voted in any election during that time and not responded to a confirmation mailing.
Statewide, more than 264,000 inactive voters have been removed in 2023. Any removed registrant must be reinstated if the voter appears to vote and gives oral or written affirmation that the voter has not moved out of the county and has maintained residence continuously within the county. These voters’ votes will be counted absent evidence that they moved out of the county.
National Change of
In January and July of each year, the State Board provides the 100 county boards of elections with data from the U.S. Postal Service listing registered voters who have indicated that they have changed their address. County boards must send postcard mailings to these voters at the new address to confirm whether they have an unreported change of address for voting purposes.
These mailings allow voters to update their names or addresses within a county or notify the board of elections of a move outside of that county. The voter is asked to respond to the mailing within 30 days. If the voter does not respond, the voter will be mailed a traditional address confirmation notice to their existing mailing address. If the voter does not respond to that notice within 30 days, the voter’s registration status will be changed to “inactive.” If a voter is deceased, a near relative may use this mailing to report the death so the county board can cancel the registration.
N.C. elections officials also routinely remove voters who have died from the voter rolls. Death notifications are made available by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. County boards of elections also regularly remove voters who are in jail or prison on felony convictions, using records from the N.C. Department of Public Safety and U.S. attorneys’ offices.
Also, in 2022, the State Board of Elections increased the amount of research put into finding duplicate voter registrations, as well as other anomalies in voter registration data. This includes new weekly reports that look for potential errors or inconsistencies in the data, duplicate driver’s license numbers, and duplicate voter registration ID numbers. These findings are then sent to county boards of elections for review and action, if warranted. These processes ensure that no demographic groups of voters are targeted for list maintenance activity, which is crucial for the lawful maintenance of voter registration lists.