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Voter FAQs - Retroactive HAVA Checks

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Voter FAQs - Retroactive HAVA Checks

Retroactive HAVA Checks - FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Prepared by the WI GAB (Government Accountability Board) staff - July 30, 2009
Edited by the Town Clerk to personalize the information for the Hortonia voter - August 30, 2009

The following questions and answers target the Voter audience for the Town of Hortonia.

What do the following terms mean?

  • SVRS – The Statewide Voter Registration System. This is the computer system used to track and maintain voter registration information for the State of Wisconsin.
  • HAVA – The Help America Vote Act of 2002. This federal law made sweeping changes to elections administration, and was passed in response to the difficulties reported in the 2000 Presidential Election.
  • G.A.B. – The Government Accountability Board. This is a non-partisan Board charged with administering Wisconsin’s campaign finance, ethics, and election laws. G.A.B. staff carries out the Board’s mission and administrative duties.
  • DOT – The Department of Transportation. This is a State agency that is responsible for many areas related to transportation, including issuance of driver licenses to Wisconsin’s drivers. DOT also issues State ID cards, which serve as an official government identification card for Wisconsin residents who do not drive.
  • SSA – Social Security Administration. This is a Federal agency that administers the Social Security program in the United States. SSA is responsible for issuance of Social Security Numbers, which serve as nationally recognized identification numbers.

What is a HAVA Check?
HAVA Checks are required by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA), and cross-check voter registration information with driver license or social security records. These checks help detect errors and improve the accuracy of the data in the voter registration system.

What information is checked in the HAVA Check?
The HAVA Check compares the voter’s name, date of birth, and “identifying number”. Your identifying number is your driver license number, State ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number. If you have a driver license or State ID number, your information is cross-checked with information at the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. If you do not have a driver license or State ID card, then your information is cross-checked with information at the Social Security Administration.

What if I don’t have a driver license?
If you do not have a driver license, you can provide your State ID card number. If you do not have a State ID card, you can use the last four digits of your social security number.

What will the G.A.B. do with my information?
The information is only used to validate voter registration information. By statute, dates of birth, driver license numbers, State ID numbers, and social security numbers are confidential and can only be viewed by election officials. This information cannot be released or shared with outside vendors, or the general public.

Why are these checks being run now?
HAVA Checks were required beginning in 2006, but the checks did not become available through Statewide Voter Registration System (SVRS) until August of 2008. This summer G.A.B. staff performed “Retroactive HAVA Checks” to catch up with those voters who did not get the required check when they registered.

What happens if my information doesn’t match?
If your information does not match, you will still be able to vote as you always have. However, some of your information may not be correct in the system. Correcting this information reduces the risk of your record being incorrectly matched with another voter with a similar name or identifying information.

What if my clerk says that the State informed him/her that my “Name does not match”?
There are many reasons why a voter’s name in SVRS may not match the name at DOT. The information is entered into two entirely separate databases, from separate forms, that the voter fills out at different times. The separate agencies have different rules and data entry standards. With that in mind, there are several common reasons why the name does not match:

  1. Nicknames – some voters may have used a nickname on their EB-131 rather than their full name. DOT tends to use full first names. For example, ROBERT versus BOB.
  2. Middle initials or middle names – a voter may have a middle initial or middle name on their driver license, but not in SVRS.
  3. Double first names – a voter may have a first name of MARY SUE at DOT but have a first name of MARY and a middle name of SUE in SVRS.
  4. Voters who use their middle names – some voters may go by their middle name commonly, but have their legal first and middle name on their driver license. For example, the driver license may show RICHARD THOMAS SMITH, but SVRS may show R THOMAS SMITH or simply THOMAS SMITH.
  5. Names with hyphens or spaces – the voter may appear one way on their driver license and a different way in SVRS. For example, JOHNSON SMITH versus JOHNSON-SMITH
  6. Names beginning with MC or VAN – the voter may have a space after the prefix, or not. For example, MCKINLEY versus MC KINLEY, or VAN HOLLEN versus VANHOLLEN.
  7. Names with apostrophes – many voters with apostrophes in their names were entered into DOT’s database with a space instead of an apostrophe. For example, O LEARY versus O’LEARY.

What should my clerk do to “fix” my name if it does not match?
G.A.B. recommends updating the voter’s name in SVRS to appear as it does on his or her driver license, in accordance with the instructions on the EB-131. Many clerks have expressed that they do not want to change voters’ last names because they may appear in different places on the poll book from their family members, which creates confusion on election day. Some clerks may choose to change the last name back after the HAVA Check to ensure consistency on the poll book. This is not prohibited, as long as the name is correct. Please note though that if the voter indicates that their legal name appears a certain way, then that is the way it should appear in SVRS.

What if I have a State ID card instead of a Driver License?
The State ID number is used exactly like the driver license number. It is entered into SVRS in the same field as the driver license number.

What if my Driver License or State ID card has incorrect information?
If information such as the name or date of birth is wrong on the driver license, you must contact DOT to get the information corrected.

My letter told me to contact my clerk, but I've heard the Town of Hortonia relies on Outagamie County to update voter information. Do I call the Hortonia Clerk? the Outgamie County Clerk? G.A.B.?
You heard correct - the Town of Hortonia Clerk does not enter voter information into the SVRS system. If you have been instructed to call the clerk, you should call the Outagamie County Clerk's office at 920-832-5079. Or, you can call G.A.B. directly at 608-261-2028.

What will G.A.B. do when if I call?
G.A.B. staff will ask you to verify the information as it appears on you driver license, update the voter record in SVRS as necessary, and rerun the HAVA Check. G.A.B. staff will log all updates made to voter records, and will send those updates to the Outagamie County Clerk. The Town of Hortonia clerk is not in the loop in this process because the Town Clerk needs high-speed/broadband internet to access SVRS. Because, in the past the Town Clerk did not have this, the process was taken out of the hands of the Town Clerk and moved to the County level. 

If the Town of Hortonia Clerk is out of the loop, should I always call the County Clerk?
NO!!! The Town Clerk is required by state statutes to maintain voter registration documents, provide absentee ballots, set up the voting machines, provide poll workers with poll lists, etc, etc, etc. The Town Clerk is in the loop when it comes to elections, but, the Town Clerk is out of the loop with it comes to SVRS. So if you call the Town Clerk 920-779-9780, he should be able to answer most of your election related questions.

What if I do not respond to the Ping Letter?
There are no consequences if you do not respond to the Ping letter. Your status will remain active and you will still be able to vote at the polls or absentee as you normally do. Your record will continue to appear as a non-match in the SVRS system.

If I don't like my Town Clerk or my County Clerk can I get help somewhere else?
Yes, please contact the G.A.B. Help Desk at 608-261-2028 or and they can help.

Neither the Town of Hortonia nor Outagamie County nor the WI G.A.B. is responsible for any inaccuracies or unauthorized use of the information contained within. No warranties are implied.


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