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New statewide voter registration system ready in time for fall elections

The chances of dead people voting in the upcoming fall elections have been greatly reduced in Wisconsin, thanks to the statewide voter registration system finally being completed.

According to officials with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, state election officials can now cross-check voter data with records from the Wisconsin Departments of Transportation, Corrections and Health Services.

The state is also now in compliance with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) which was passed in 2002 and requires all states to have a centralized voter registration database.

"We have jumped another hurdle as we prepare for an important fall election cycle," said Kevin Kennedy, GAB director.

According to Kyle Richmond, a GAB spokesman, the state contracted with Accenture to build the system and it was supposed to be ready in 2006.

Richmond said all counties in the state started using the system in the fall of 2006, but not everything was working and the state was not in compliance with the voting act.

"It was kind of like buying a new car and not everything is working the way it is supposed to," Richmond said.

Now officials believe the system is ready for the road.

"We are prepared to deal with any bugs our local election officials may find and respond accordingly," said Nat Robinson, GAB elections division administrator.

Since 2006 the state provided local officials with lists of state residents who are serving felony sentences and those who have passed away. However, with the new registration system those lists won't be needed.

"The system does that automatically when we register a person," said Jamie Feuerhelm, Pierce County clerk.

With the voter registration system local election officials will be able to save time while improving efficiency and accuracy, according to election officials.

To handle voters who register at the polls, Feuerhelm said that like always poll workers have to follow existing policies to make sure an individual can vote, like showing proof of residency.

"When they turn in their election results and registrations we'll enter the data into the system at that time," Feuerhelm said.

The system will be updated monthly to make sure all data is current, according to state elections officials.

Contact Brady Bautch at .