Secretary of State Chet Culver is in the midst of a major computer overhaul that’ll modernize Iowa’s voter registration system. Culver’s using half a MILLION dollars in state money to start the upgrade, and hopes to use some money Iowa will get from the feds this spring to complete the $2 MILLION project. He hopes to have it done by 2004. Culver says the current system is a circa 1970 mainframe computer that cannot “speak” with the other state and county computer systems which store voter registration information. The state Department of Transportation stores voter registration on its computer system because Iowans can register to vote when they renew their drivers license. The Department of Public Health reports when voters die. The court system reports when voters get a felony conviction. And all 99 counties have computer systems that dump into the mainframe, too. Culver says the new, centralized computer system should be updated in real time, giving officials another avenue to prevent vote fraud. Culver says candidates and the political parties have been buying the lists of registered voters and because of the antiquated system, up to 30 percent of the registrations have been wrong because people have moved, died or been convicted of a serious crime.
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