OLYMPIA – The Thurston County Auditor’s Office updated over 27,000 voter records in 2021 for nearly 200,000 registered voters. “Making sure the voter rolls are up-to-date is a top priority for our voter registration staff throughout the year,” said Mary Hall, Thurston County Auditor. “We work with our partners at the state and federal level every day to ensure our voter rolls are accurate.”
Examples of these updates include:
- 491 voter registrations canceled by voter request
- 632 voter registrations canceled because the voter died
- 14,361 voter registration moved to inactive status because mail was returned as undeliverable. (Inactive voters do not receive a ballot unless they contact us and update their address.)
- 95 voter registrations kept in pending status because of incomplete registration forms and the voter did not respond to the request for additional information.
The Auditor’s Office works with trusted sources including the Office of the Secretary of State, the Social Security Administration, the United State Postal Service National Change of Address Program, the Department of Licensing, the Department of Health, the Department of Corrections, and the Office of the Administrator of the Courts to maintain the accuracy of voter registration data.
The Auditor’s Office also removes registrations of deceased persons using published obituaries or written notices from relatives.
Additionally, Washington State is a member of ERIC (Electronic Registration Information Center). ERIC uses sophisticated data matching software that compares voter registration and motor vehicle licensing data across 30 other states. ERIC reports help us ensure voters aren’t registered in multiple states.
“Our most important partner in this effort are voters,” Hall said. If voters receive a ballot for a deceased voter, a voter who has moved, or anyone who does not live at that address, they should contact the Auditor’s Office. Voters can also return the ballot through the USPS by writing “Deceased” or “Not at this address” and deposit it in the mail. “The postal service returns those ballots to us, and we cancel or inactivate the voter according to state and federal law,” Hall said.
The Thurston County Auditor’s Office is aware of disinformation in a summary report that claims Thurston County’s voter rolls updates to voter registration data are not being made in a timely manner. The report took a non-random sample totaling 1.91 percent of Thurston County’s voter rolls. The summary report does not provide more than a handful of highly selective examples.
“We reached out to the group that produced this report to ask for their data, and they produced a sample of 30 records.” Hall said. “We can’t properly evaluate their claims without all the actual data.”
After checking the sample of thirty voter records provided by the group:
- Most are military or overseas civilian voters who are allowed by federal law to register at their last domestic address.
- The rest of the sample were either inactive, canceled or a valid registration.
- There were zero discrepancies.
“What we do know about this group is they spent weeks going door to door canvassing voters without a public announcement, which led to dozens of voters calling our offices,” Hall said. “Many voters clearly thought that it was Auditor’s staff canvassing.” The Thurston County Auditor’s Office released a statement in November on the canvassing efforts by the research project group that wrote the report.
Thurston County elections staff spend hundreds of hours each year updating voter rolls. “We use every resource we can legally access to make sure we are sending ballots to the right people and places,” Hall said.
In addition to updating the voter rolls daily, every ballot signature is verified by a trained election professional. The ballot signature is compared to the signature in our voter registration database. “Even if a ballot goes to the wrong address, the fact that ballots can’t be counted without a matching signature ensures only the actual voter can vote that ballot,” Hall said.