why do you need a voided check for direct deposit

Deposit slips are intended to be used only by the bank that issued them. As such, they do not necessarily have a valid routing number nor necessarily the appropriate account number on them. I had precisely this problem once, trying to use a deposit slip to set up direct deposit. The slip had no routing number, and had an internal account number that did not correlate with what someone external to the bank would be able to use. As you say, once they have the routing and account number, they do not need the voided check. However, having a copy of it provided them with documentation that they have the correct numbers, in case a problem occurs. A similar issue comes up if you go into a bank and ask a teller to read you your account number or to write it down for you, if you authenticate using a debit card. They are not allowed to do so; if they did and wrote something down wrong, the bank could be held liable for whatever problem that caused you down the line.

Instead, they have the system print out the account number on a slip and hand you that.
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