New voters' data often differs from SSA records, especially in four states
- By Alice Lipowicz
- May 23, 2011
People without driver's licenses registering to vote often provide information that doesn't match their records at the Social Security Administration, and in four states — California, Arizona, Nevada and New Jersey — the problem is extreme, according to new data released on SSA's open government Web page.
In California, 90 percent of new voters who registered in the first five months of 2011 without a license provided identity documents with either a name, birth date or four digits of their Social Security number that did not match their records at the SSA. That comprised 119,858 no-matches among 131,523 new voters who provided such data.
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In Nevada, 74 percent were a no-match; in Colorado, 70 percent; and in New Jersey, 63 percent, SSA’s records show.
Nationwide, 39 percent, or roughly 389,000, of the 1 million voters who registered without driver’s licenses this year offered identification that did not match their official records at SSA.
SSA assembled the data under the Help America Vote Act of 2002, which requires states to verify with SSA the identity information of certain newly registered voters for federal elections. The system covers only prospective voters who lack driver’s licenses.
Each state must establish a computerized voter registration list and verify the new voter’s driver’s license number with the state’s motor vehicle administration. If the voter does not have a driver’s license, the prospective voter is asked to provide the last four digits of his or her Social Security number.
Forty-three states currently use the Help America Vote system.
No-match rates between Social Security numbers and other types of identity documents have been a concern in other national identification programs as well, including the Homeland Security Department’s E-Verify program for employment verification. Under E-Verify, which is voluntary for most employers and required for large federal contractors, the employers submit a prospective new worker’s Social Security number to verify the person’s identity before the hiring can be authorized. If there is a no-match, there are further procedures for adjudication. A research study in 2010 indicated that E-Verify was not able to detect half of unauthorized workers.
Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.