Virginia Department of Elections makes historic gains

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(The Center Square) — The Virginia Department of Elections has undertaken some significant procedural changes in 2023, as recently presented to General Assembly subcommittees in the department’s Annual List Maintenance Report—ahead of the general election.

The department, also known as ELECT, achieved many firsts this year, likely resulting from an audit that began Dec. 2022, reviewing all voter registration list maintenance practices. The commonwealth even gained recognition from the Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Elections, who expressed interest in how other states might imitate Virginia.

The department conducted two national change of address mailings this year for the first time – previously conducted only once annually – identifying “a record number of 260,653 inactive voters,” according to a press release from the department. ELECT is also working with the Department of Motor Vehicles to “collect license surrender data from more states than ever before.”

ELECT used data from the Virginia Department of Health to conduct a “historical audit” of death records dating back to 1960, identifying 18,990 records ELECT was previously unaware of.

“ELECT [also] canceled an historic record of 77,348 deceased voters over the past 12 months by simplifying the reporting and removal process,” according to the release.

Notably, in May, Virginia left the Electronic Registration Information Center, a data-sharing coalition formed in 2012 to fight voter fraud currently comprised of election officials from 25 states and the District of Columbia, though Texas is withdrawing effective Oct. 19.

Virginia was the eighth GOP-led state to withdraw from ERIC this year. Texas will be the ninth, amid conservatives’ concerns regarding data privacy, security and politics interfering in the nonpartisan organization’s operations.

As an alternative, the commonwealth has formed a smaller data-sharing network by signing agreements with Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, to compare voter records and prevent voter fraud. Tennessee is not a part of ERIC, and Ohio and West Virginia are two of the states that also withdrew from ERIC this year, while Georgia, South Carolina and the District of Columbia remain members.

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