Can We Make Voter Registration Easier? Yes! Here’s How.

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There are numerous ways to make registering to vote easier in this country. Today, let’s focus on Automatic Voter Registration.

A great explanation from the Brennan Center for Justice as to why Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) is such a good idea:

“Automatic voter registration makes two transformative, yet simple, changes to voter registration: Eligible citizens who interact with government agencies are registered to vote unless they decline, and agencies transfer voter registration information electronically to election officials. These two changes create a seamless process that is more convenient and less error-prone for both voters and government officials. This policy boosts registration rates, cleans up the rolls, makes voting more convenient, and reduces the potential for voter fraud, all while lowering costs.”

Congress often introduces a national Automatic Voter Registration Act–in fact the active Senate bill is S.1353 and House bill is H.R.2876–but they’ve never gotten out of committee. What HAS worked are individual bills introduced in state legislatures, or ballot initiatives.

Here are the states that have adopted AVR already:

AVR Enacted

States with AVR: Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, plus D.C.

Now if your state isn’t listed, don’t despair. There are two things you can do to help push for AVR at the state level.

The first piece of good news is that a LOT of states have introduced AVR bills already this year. If your state is highlighted below, you’ll want to reach out to your state legislators (you can do a simple search here to get their contact info) and 1) let them know that you are supportive of having AVR, and 2) ask them what the current status of the bill is. There may even be public hearings about the bill that you could attend. Just ask.

AVR Introduced

Is your state highlighted? Call your local legislators and tell them you’re in favor of AVR!

Let me take this moment to stress how important it is to stay informed about your state politics, and voting for your state/local legislators. AVR is only one reason why you need to pay attention to state elections.

Now, if your state isn’t highlighted, you might have another option. Some states have legislatures that are opposed to AVR so they never let such a bill to ever be discussed. But some states allow citizens to propose new laws through a ballot initiative. In fact, a few of the states that have AVR got it through a ballot initiative (ex. Alaska).

If you’re not sure a ballot initiative is either already underway in your state or even a possibility, then check with a local organization who works on voter registration. A good place to start would be your local League of Women Voters. (Scroll down slightly on the front page of their website to get to their local league listings.) You can also check in with your local Democratic club, or your county/precinct officer, or other social organizations that organize around political issues.

Whether you’re in a blue, red, or purple state, there are steps you can take to get Automatic Voter Registration enacted. Consider sharing this article with others, too, to plant the seed with other motivated citizens. Let’s make voter registration easier!

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