Another Use for A.I.: Finding Millions of Unregistered Voters

Steve Lohr at The New York Times: “The mechanics of elections that attract the most attention are casting and counting, snafus with voting machines and ballots and allegations of hacking and fraud. But Jeff Jonas, a prominent data scientist, is focused on something else: the integrity, updating and expansion of voter rolls.

“As I dove into the subject, it grew on me, the complexity and relevance of the problem,” he said.

As a result, Mr. Jonas has played a geeky, behind-the-scenes role in encouraging turnout for the midterm elections on Tuesday.

For the last four years, Mr. Jonas has used his software for a multistate project known as Electronic Registration Information Center that identifies eligible voters and cleans up voter rolls. Since its founding in 2012, the nonprofit center has identified 26 million people who are eligible but unregistered to vote, as well as 10 million registered voters who have moved, appear on more than one list or have died.

“I have no doubt that more people are voting as a result of ERIC,” said John Lindback, a former senior election administrator in Oregon and Alaska who was the center’s first executive director.

Voter rolls, like nearly every aspect of elections, are a politically charged issue. ERIC, brought together by the Pew Charitable Trusts, is meant to play it down the middle. It was started largely with professional election administrators, from both red and blue states.

But the election officials recognized that their headaches often boiled down to a data-handling challenge. Then Mr. Jonas added his technology, which has been developed and refined for decades. It is artificial intelligence software fine-tuned for spotting and resolving identities, whether people or things….(More)”.