Modernizing voter registration, including online registration, is necessary to advance the promise of a fully representative electorate. Online registration allows registrants to electronically complete (and sometimes update) voter registration applications and transmit the information over the Internet.
Of the states we surveyed, only Colorado, Louisiana, and Georgia have adopted and implemented online voter registration. Colorado and Louisiana implemented it in 2010, and Georgia did so in 2014. In all three states, residents must use a driver's license or other special state identification card to register. People who lack these specific types of identification are still able to complete an application, located on each state's online registration portal, but they will need to print and mail the form to election officials.
In Kentucky, qualified military and overseas voters may apply to register to vote and update their voter registration information online.
Michigan allows voters to update their voter registrations online, but not to register to vote. Voters still need to complete paper registration forms. Once in the system, a Michigander can update her or his voter registration address and driver's license address simultaneously online.
Online registration makes standing up to be counted more convenient and accessible. Administrative hurdles to registration suppress voter participation, especially among populations whose members move frequently or face language barriers. While the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and other important legislation have expanded access to the ballot and increased participation rates, registration barriers disproportionately affect voters of color, young people, senior citizens, and poor communities. Unwieldy paper processes are prone to human error and can lead to inaccurate voter registration rolls.
No one who takes the responsibility to register to vote should find herself kicked-off the list simply because she moved or because an overworked election official inaccurately transferred information from a paper application to a computer database.
After reviewing a wide body of research, the Commission recommended that states adopt online voter registration as "an invaluable tool for managing the accuracy of voter rolls and reducing the costs of list maintenance." The Commission found that when properly adopted, online registration makes voter lists more accurate, saves money, and improves the voting experience because voters can immediately verify that the information they transmit is accurately entered into databases.
There is welcome progress in other states that are considering online registration. Within the past year, legislators in Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania introduced bills to advance online registration. According to Alaska's Division of Elections, the state is moving towards online voter registration with the implementation of a new statewide system some time in 2015.
|FINDINGS BY STATE|