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The Qualified Voter File (QVF)…Election “Feature” That Is Readily Exploited

How many recall that when they turned 18 they were encouraged to register to vote?  Voter registration tables recruit college students as they enter their colleges every September.  In California high schools, 16-year-olds are encouraged to “pre-register.” Nobody asks to see a passport or birth certificate.

When you get a driver’s license in some states, like California, you are added to the qualified voter file (QVF) automatically. This has nothing to do with citizenship.  Furthermore, in California, when you apply for welfare benefits like MediCal, you are also entered in the QVF. 

When someone dies, nobody is advised to remove the deceased individual from his/her county’s QVF.  A ballot gets sent to last known address…and possibly to former addresses as well.  

We Americans move, on average, every six years. When you move, you notify the DMV, but the DMV does not notify the county when you are ineligible to vote because you have left the county for a certain period of time(30 days in Arizona). Ballots are not supposed to be forwarded by the Post Office, but what happens to the thousands of ballots sent to former addresses?  Without signature verification, they can be sold, or filled out and returned by anyone. 

I have a friend with two homes. One in which he resided for over 20 years, and another in which he has lived for the past ten years.  In his former home in another California county, he has an in-law unit where he spends a few days every few weeks when he needs to work on his former home which is now a rental home(except for the in-law unit).  He goes there also if he gets evacuated due to a wildfire.  He gets ballots for himself at both addresses.  He also gets ballots for people who used to rent his former home, at that address, including ballots for his son and some of his son’s roommates. In reference to these ballots, he told me (in front of two other witnesses) in the Fall of 2020 that “I gathered them all up, filled them out, and sent them off.” Try to guess his party affiliation.

If you marry, you may change your name.  If you do so, nobody removes your old name and address as a qualified voter. If you choose to, you can add a new voter registration under your married name.

If you get convicted of a felony, you lose your right to vote.  Do you think that the courts notify the county election department when this happens?

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A friend recently became a citizen and she voted in 2022. I asked her if she had to show her proof of citizenship at the polls. She said that she had to fill out a form in which she designated that she was a citizen and had become one through Naturalization. She was not asked for a U.S. passport or a Certificate of Naturalization as validation.

The task of maintaining and updating the QVF is not simple.  Some states contract with outside companies to perform it.  These companies can add voters as they choose to do, under their own guidelines. In one mid-western swing state, an audit uncovered that there were six firms that had unlimited access to that states QVF.  The auditors determined this by discovering the six different numbering schemes used to uniquely identify records.

In my own small sphere of influence, I have a neighbor who has lived with his wife in the same home for 30 years.  While blowing leaves out of his driveway in 2021, he asked me why I thought he and his wife received four ballots instead of two.  In October, 2020, I received a ballot for a roommate I had five years before. I did not know where she lived, so I kept it as an interesting election artifact. I did not want to put it back in the mailbox, flag up, as undelivered because I did not know what would become of it. I did not trust the Post Office after I heard a mailman who completed an affidavit for Giuliani after the 2020 presidential election saying he overheard his supervisors at the Post Office agreeing to backdate ballots that arrived to late to be legitimately counted. In 2022, for the mid-term election, I did not receive a ballot for my ex-roommate.

These examples are why there are more registered voters than people in many places in the U.S.  Anyone who mentions trying to fix these problems is accused of voter suppression.

After the 2020 election, in 2021, several states announced purges of many records from their QVFs.  Why do you think this happened after the election and not prior to it?