Pa. finds a SURE way to integrate voter rolls

Pennsylvania's 67 counties have 67 different voter registration rolls, said program manager Ted Koval. Each county maintains its own voter records.

Without a statewide searching mechanism, it was difficult for counties to check on voters who had moved or died and were still listed on the rolls, Koval said.

Last month Pennsylvania signed an agreement with Accenture LLP of Chicago to develop the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors (SURE), a system that will consolidate the voter-registration data of the state's counties.

'We'll have cleaner, more efficient, more accurate voter rolls as a result of SURE,' Koval said. Counties will access a central Microsoft SQL Server database using Election Systems Manager software from Election.com Inc. of Garden City, N.Y., which will run on Pennsylvania's statewide fiber-optic network. Unisys Corp. is providing data warehouse equipment. Users will access SURE on desktop PCs running Windows 2000.

One of the biggest jobs ahead is converting the counties' 7.8 million registered voter records into a uniform format, Koval said.

'But it's usually not the technology that poses a challenge, it's change,' said Meg McLaughlin, global managing partner for Accenture's e-democracy industry group.

Security and confidentiality of the data is of the utmost importance, Koval said. That's one reason the state is not using the Web to make this data available to counties, McLaughlin said.

SURE will link electronically to statewide Health Department data to identify deceased voters. The system also will link to the Pennsylvania Transportation Department to update motor-voter registration records automatically, a process that is now handled manually.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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