Promoting public access to election records.

Discrepancies in Voter Data

On this page:

  1. What Data are and are not Available
  2. A Significant Disclaimer
  3. Completeness of Voter Lists
  4. Timeliness of Voter Lists
  5. What to Do if Your Record Doesn't Seem Right

What Data are and are not Available

The voter and election information on the Who Voted website comes from large data files generated periodically by Elections Departments in states and counties around the United States. Usually, these files contain only information about voters who were still registered at the time the file was generated. Two implications:

  1. Any changes (e.g. new voter registrations, address changes, or recent elections) made after the file was generated will not be reflected on the Who Voted website.
  2. Previously-registered voters (and their corresponding voting histories) that were no longer registered (e.g. moved out of the county or deceased) when the file was generated might not be listed on the Who Voted website; as a result, the website is generally more useful for currently-registered voters.

The Who Voted website also provides limited or no data about voters who have protected status from public records. Sometimes counties or states provide only active voters, excluding those who are still registered but have not voted in a recent election.

A Significant Disclaimer

A representative from Okaloosa County, Florida summarizes the effect of all these factors:

"Our voter lists are constant works in progress, with voters' high mobility factor. Considering that we have thousands of cancellations, record changes, etc almost every month, current records of voters from 2004 and 2006 will in no way match election results or past statistics."

We do not, therefore, attempt to tally the data available on the website. Rather, the Who Voted website provides enough data for most voters to check that their votes are being counted and serves as a starting point for those remaining voters to perform more in-depth research if their voting records don't seem quite right. more about that

Completeness of Voter Lists

The list of elections itself is provided by each state's department of elections. Carefully check that all elections in which you voted are listed. If you voted in an election that does not appear in the list, your vote may not have been counted. An exception is that if your voter history page shows no election history whatsoever, it is possible that the Who Voted website simply has not received that data from the government. Since the data represented on this site may also be transcribed from the official poll book or signature list at a polling place, it is also possible that a given voter's failure to be listed or another voter's false listing were due to clerical errors of data entry. Voter histories from some states may also fail to show whether a provisional ballot was ruled elibible or ineligible. Under Federal Law, the department of elections in each state must provide a way for voters to learn the disposition of their ballot. Contact the elections department in your state to find out how to do this.

Even when the voter history accurately reflects which ballots were cast, they will not show whether a vote was counted from that ballot, e.g. if the ballot was incorrectly marked or left blank. One of the purposes of this site is to draw attention to the fact that these voter histories are often not reliable records of who voted. A publicly visible record of who voted is a necessary check on tallies in a secret ballot election, and current voter histories, while aimed at addressing this need, do not meet it adequately. We hope this website will raise consciousness about the need for more accurate, publicly available lists.

Timeliness of Voter Lists

Voter histories are usually available only months after an election, or later. Thus, voters cannot use these data to verify that their ballots were cast until after the election has been certified. This is another important limitation of publicly available data, to which we hope this site draws attention.

What to Do if Your Record Doesn't Seem Right

For the reasons described above, it is quite possible that the website simply contains inaccurate data, if you think what it says isn't right. However, we encourage you to verify your voting history with your county or state Elections Department. Although you probably won't be able to get large quantities of data (such as are available on the Who Voted website) from your local Elections Department, in almost all cases they should be able to provide verification that your voter registration is accurate and can tell you whether they have a record of your casting a ballot in a given election.

Here are some tips when contacting your Elections Department:

  1. Some states handle their elections on a statewide level; others let the counties handle them. Often, both your county and state offices will have the information you need.
  2. On the state level, Elections Departments are usually under the Secretary of State.
  3. If the office has a website with their contact information, you can probably find it by typing (state name) elections as a Google query.
  4. Don't get mad at your election officials if the Who Voted website had incorrect information; they are completely unaffiliated with the website.


About Who Voted

Who Voted lets you see whose votes were recorded in recent elections (It does not say who they voted for.)

All information available on this site is public record and provided by the Elections Departments in states and counties around the United States.

The views expressed on this site are solely those of the project team, and do not represent the views of Stanford University, CPSR, or Google.


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