Statement of Page Gardner, Founder and President of the Voter Participation Center
July 29th, 2012
Since 2004, the non-partisan VoterParticipationCenterhas sent out 32 million voter registration applications. Over the years, a tiny percentage of that mail unavoidably went to the wrong person. That is not news.
What is significant is that — because of our work — 1.5 million Americans have been registered to vote, and millions of ballots have been cast by people who would otherwise have been frozen out of participating in our democracy. 73 million citizens inAmericaare eligible to vote and cannot because they are unregistered.
Since states do not compile lists of unregistered voters, we must. The only way the VPC can compile such a list is to buy commercial mailing lists, and then compare that list to the voter roles and delete names that are already on the rolls. Inevitably, both sets of lists contain errors. However, even a 1% error rate on the 6.6 million application forms that VPC has mailed this year alone would be 66,000 forms. The fact that the number of complaints seems to be only in the hundreds is a testament to the extraordinary care that VPC takes in compiling its lists.
Since September, 2011, more than 15,700 Virginians have applied to be added to the voting rolls, because of the convenience and reminder our mailings provide…
The real news here is not what happened in 2008 and earlier but the fact that the Romney Campaign now wants the state to invalidate the registration applications of all 15,700 Virginians who completed and signed the legal, state-approved VPC voter registration application.
This interference by the Romney campaign in the legitimate registration of thousands ofVirginiacitizens is just the latest example of the lengths to which the forces of voter suppression will go to subvert the time-honored American value thatAmericais at her best when everyone participates in our great democracy.
The Voter Participation Center Believes Every Qualified American Should be Registered and Vote
Registration work conducted by theVoterParticipationCenter, the League of Women Voters and other non-profit civic engagement groups is a critically needed public service to strengthen our democracy. One out of three Americans is not registered to vote. And that at a time when states have neither the resources nor the programs to educate and register voters, a spate of voter suppression laws are taking effect. Our work is instrumental in making certain the electorate grows and becomes an accurate representation of the American people.
The VPC finds unregistered voters, encourages them to engage in our democracy and helps them take the first step toward registration by sending a registration application to their home. It is then up to each applicant to review the form, correct it if it contains any errors, sign under oath attesting to their eligibility, and mail it to the Board of Elections – where state officials have to review and certify the applicant as eligible. Since the VPC does not complete the voter registration applications and since the VPC does not receive any of the applications it sends out, there is no possible way in which fraud could be committed by the organization.
An independent analysis of VPC voter registration applications submitted to elections officials in 2008 shows that fully 87.8% were valid applications accepted by boards of elections—the highest of any organization that registered more than 100,000 voters that year.
The work of the VPC is not just helpful, it is essential. Especially when voter suppression groups are determined to keep qualified Americans from joining their democracy. It is work that should be applauded, rather than criticized because some of its registration forms are unavoidably wasted on bad addresses.
The big news the media needs to cover is the massive campaign underway to prevent qualified citizens from participating in their democracy.