In recent years, voter registration drives by third party organizations have been very successful at registering millions of new voters and broadening the electorate, especially among low income and minority people. Project Vote and its local partners alone registered 1.14 million voters in 2003-2004.
While a democracy's health is dependent on participation by all its citizens, these successful voter registration efforts have prompted a backlash among those who are not interested in bringing more voters into the political process. This backlash has exploited a very small number of instances in which individuals filled out false applications to accuse voter registration organizations of perpetuating widespread "voter fraud" and to drive the enactment of new and unnecessarily strict laws regulating voter registration and voting itself. It is essential in this climate for community organizations and other "third party" voter registration and voter engagement organizations to run tightly managed voter registration drives. In order to keep the focus on bringing new voters into the political process, drives must emphasize quality control and maintain the integrity of the voter registration system. This policy brief lays out the key elements of achieving this goal.