During CPI’s Arizona Statewide Election Integrity Network Summit in March of 2022, Cleta sat down with election integrity powerhouse Gina Swoboda, who has singlehandedly made great progress in making every state’s voter rolls and vote histories available to citizens across the country, all while leading election reform efforts by the Arizona legislature.
Gina has served in virtually every role in the election process in Arizona: she has worked for the State of Arizona’s election office, served as a local registrar, as a precinct officer, and a statewide trainer for poll observers – among other key roles. She is also the Executive Director of the Voter Reference Foundation (VoteRef.com,) a public website that publishes the voter rolls and election history of every state, making that key data accessible to citizens.
With a passion for transparency in the election process, Gina was instrumental in moving the Arizona legislature to refer a popular voter ID measure, “Arizonans for Voter ID Act,” to the ballot in 2022, enabling the people of Arizona to vote this year to impose voter ID on voters in Arizona’s elections.
Believing “the only way to restore faith in the election process is being part of the election process,” Gina and Cleta discuss the importance of citizen engagement in the election system itself, as well as being part of the public policy debate on election measures. One of the fundamental aspects of protecting elections is cleaning voter rolls – and that task is vastly improved when citizens are able to access every state’s voters rolls and voting histories – and to vest power with engaged citizens to identify dead voters, voters who no longer live at their registration addresses, voters registered improperly at PO Boxes and vacant addresses, and more. Federal law requires voter list maintenance that should be available to all by federal law, but are blocked by state-imposed procedures that deny citizens access to the voter rolls or charge prices that make it cost-prohibitive for citizens groups to purchase the voter data in many states.
The Voter Reference Foundation is determined to overcome those barriers, and currently publishes voter data from twenty (20) states with more coming online on a continual basis. Transparency in elections and accountability of election officials – those are the twin goals of Gina Swoboda and the Voter Reference Foundation.