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Government data quality can have an impact on voter turnout

Rachel Wheeler Archive

Data quality can play numerous roles in strengthening state and local governments. One such way it can help is ensuring higher levels of voter turnout. If local political parties and campaigns have accurate contact information for their supporters, they can help get those people to the polls, ensuring that as many citizens as possible will be engaged with their democracy.

Local governments everywhere are hard at work on improving their access to high-quality data. This is especially a priority in Texas, which has many millions of eligible voters and many of them are failing to show up to the polls.

According to My FOX Austin, the movement to improve voter turnout begins with the state's capital. Travis County, the area that surrounds Austin, is working on getting more citizens involved in the democratic process, and the local government is looking to gather people's contact information and making sure that knowledge is accurate and up to date.

Bruce Elfant, voter registrar for Travis County, noted that the area is highly politically active, yet people aren't showing up to the polls. Out of 635,000 people who could have voted in the 2012 presidential election, fewer than 400,000 did.

"That is nothing to brag about," Elfant told the news source.

Elfant elaborated that address management was a major problem with voter turnout in previous elections. He has 27 boxes on a table near his office - they contain numerous voter registration cards that were returned to sender because of wrong addresses or other data quality mistakes that were made during the registration process. He needs better technology and extra staff to help him address all the problems posed by these cards.

Elfant is optimistic that with better attention to high-quality data, he'll see better voter turnout in 2014, when there's an open race to replace outgoing Governor Rick Perry.