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Using individual income tax data in automatic voter registration systems: a state-by-state analysis

Data collection platforms Data linkage Income tax Voter registration Voting systems Electoral administration Electoral systems Voting United States of America

Each year, more than 150 million U.S. households file their income taxes; what if they could simultaneously register to vote or update their voter registration? While the immediate prospects are dim for federal legislation to improve voter access, states can take action to allow their citizens to register to vote while they are filing their state income tax returns. Implementing such a policy would reduce the paperwork burden imposed on the citizenry while helping to ensure the accuracy and comprehensiveness of the state voter registration rolls.

This report assesses the effectiveness of using state income tax data for the purpose of automatic voter registration or re-registration, focusing on the level of match between each state’s standard individual income tax form and its voter registration requirements. States vary in the data they collect at tax filing, as well as their requirements for voter registration. For each element of the voter registration application, this report identifies which states already collect the required data at tax filing and proposes revisions to income tax data collection that would bring the voter registration and tax filing procedures into closer alignment. These conclusions are summarised in a checklist for states interested in moving toward a system that allows for voter registration or re-registration at tax filing.

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