Questions About DC Voting Rolls
I was just reading about the growing controversy about voting irregularities in Alaska, stemming from the extraordinarily low number of counted votes in Tuesday's election. See here and here.
This made me curious about the numbers here in DC and I started looking at the figures. They're pretty interesting.
According to the DCBOEE, there were 426,761 registered voters in DC for the 2008 election. That seemed like a lot, given the population of the District, so I looked it up and in 2006 (the latest official estimate I found), there were 474,895 residents in DC aged 18 or over. That means that 89.9 percent of all residents old enough to vote were registered, which struck me as a very high number. (It also means that only 52% of registered voters actually cast ballots in this election, which I find surprisingly low.)
But those 474K residents also include a large number of foreigners who can't (legally) vote, as well as a big population of people who come to live and work in DC but keep their voter registration in their home states, plus people who have other impediments to voting. I don't know how many people that would be, but I'm guessing that if they were subtracted from the 18+ population, it would make voter registration close to or maybe even over 100%.
So just for comparison, I looked at the analogous statistics for Maryland, and it turns out that for the state of Maryland, only 73.6 percent of residents 18 and over were registered to vote this year. That's a pretty big difference.
There has been plenty of anecdotal evidence that DC voting rolls continue to list lots of people who are no longer resident here or who are dead, and the system (if you can call it that) for purging such people from the rolls are inadequate, to be polite. I think these aggregate numbers tend to support this.
It has become very clear that there are serious problems with the voting systems throughout the country. We saw that at work here during the September primaries, and it's not evident that there has been any serious effort to resolve these questions. If you can't trust the elections, it strikes at the very basis of democracy.
We tend not to think about such things between elections, but maybe this is something we should press our elected officials on before the next one.