Modernized Online Registration
Why it still matters?
The voter registration system in the United States is outdated, inaccurate and badly in need of modernization. While we use computers to bank, shop, communicate and in nearly every other aspect of our daily lives, too many states still rely on ink and paper for voter registration. It is long past time to bring our voter registration systems into the 21st century by ensuring every eligible voter – and only eligible voters – are on the rolls. We should make it possible for every eligible voter to register online, check the status and accuracy of their registration information and correct any errors online.
What’s happening now?
- According to the Brennan Center, between one quarter and one third of all eligible Americans are not registered to vote and one in eight registration records is invalid or has serious errors.
- According to a Harvard-MIT study, 3 million eligible Americans were unable to vote because of registration problems and over 3.6 million Americans experienced registration problems in 2012.
- A 2010 Arizona case study found that paper registration forms cost 83 cents to process, whereas online registrations cost just 3 cents. Moreover, five times more errors were introduced in paper registrations than online registrations in one county in Arizona.
- According to the Brennan Center, agencies with electronic registration have seen a seven-fold increase in registration. In addition, voter turnout has increased 5 to 7 percent in places that allow eligible voters to register and vote on the same day as any federal election.
What needs to happen moving forward?
179 House Democrats are cosponsors of the Voter Empowerment Act (VEA), a bill which would, among other things, modernize our outdated voter registration system. The VEA was introduced by Congressman John Lewis in May 2012. Despite bipartisan support for key modernization reforms in several states and from the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration, Republican leaders in Congress have not taken up the VEA or any other voter registration modernization proposals.
Title I of the VEA authorizes automated voter registration, online registration and allows underage individuals to preregister to vote so that they become eligible upon their 18th birthday. In addition, the VEA allows voters to register and vote on the same day as any federal election. A modernized, online voter registration system will save time and money, while also increasing access to the ballot box and improving the accuracy of our nation’s voter registration rolls.
For more information, please visit: http://democrats.judiciary.house.gov/issue/election-reform.