Statement from Page Gardner, Founder and President of the Voter Participation Center, about Mozart the dog

June 20th, 2012

We are facing a crisis in our democracy. Over 35% of all Americans – more than 73.5 million – are unregistered to vote. And, for every citizen who is unregistered and does not participate, our democracy is weaker. In addition, some state officials across the country are trying to deny this basic right to millions of eligible citizens by conducting voter purges of state voter files lists and creating other voting obstacles.

An individual put the name of his dog on a magazine subscription list and the dog’s name ended up on a commercial data base (most magazines sell their subscriber lists). This dog received a voter registration application in error and probably many other mail pieces as well because he was on the magazine lists.

What is a real concern is that a simple piece of mail – an understandable mistake – has gotten so much attention and created a bogus “crisis” in this toxic atmosphere designed to discourage citizens from registering and voting to make our democracy stronger and healthier.

The truth is that anyone (pet owners included) can access an unlimited number of voter registration applications online. Or at a local DMV. Or an election administration office.

We all rely on the diligence of local election officials to review the applications if and when they are turned in. We also rely on the integrity of individuals receiving the forms. We don’t believe people want to submit fraudulent applications and commit a felony.

While the environment for civic engagement in this country has “gone to the dogs,” we continue our work to make sure that more and more individuals are registered and vote.

Today at the Voter Participation Center, we helped 20,000 Americans participate in the registration process. The Voter Participation Center has registered more than one million Americans since 2004.

Please see background below on how VPC does its work and on a humorous video we created several weeks ago to highlight this bogus pet issue.

Background:

The Voter Participation Center focuses on registering and turning out unmarried women, people of color, and young people under 30. These three groups make up the Rising American Electorate — 53 percent of the voting eligible population.  But they are not registered and they do not turn out at anywhere near that strength.

In fact, in 2010 there were more members of the RAE who were unregistered (46 million) than who voted.

We take this mission very seriously and we take extraordinary steps to ensure the accuracy and integrity of our lists:

  • We contract with vendors who conduct sophisticated name matching processes when they develop their lists, matching a Voting Age Population list purchased from a nationally recognized data vendor to each state’s list of registered voters.
  • The vendors include only records that exist on multiple list sources to avoid inaccuracies.
  • State voter registration lists are acquired on a regular basis and processed into a central database.
  • We work aggressively to scrub our lists, paying a premium to get the most-up-to-date data.

Although the vendors use the most advanced methods of matching and cleaning, no list building process is 100% accurate.

The name of a pet makes its way onto a commercial list when the owner of a pet signs the pet up for something, a magazine subscription for example, that leads the list vendor to believe the pet is a person.

The Video:

Click the link below to see a short video we released two weeks ago to call attention to the silly environment that conservatives have created as they try to prevent efforts to register voters.

Cats Can’t Vote!