The Commission correctly emphasized that each state's department of motor vehicles (DMV) "plays a pivotal role in the registration of America's voters," thanks to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). This is important, according to the Commission, because "a wide swath of the American electorate frequents these offices on a regular basis," and because if "there is any identification document that citizens will keep current, it is the state-issued driver's license or personal identification card."
Common Cause recommends that states also seamlessly integrate voter data acquired at all voter registration agencies, including public assistance agencies and healthcare exchanges. Many Americans -- particularly due to income -- never interact with DMVs but must still be afforded, by law, opportunities to register to vote at a variety of other agencies. The opportunity to register to vote at these agencies must be incorporated into their benefits processes -- whether electronically or on paper -- and that data should also be captured by the state.
The Commission found that many states could improve their DMV's interaction with the voter registration process. Gaps in the process could lead to Election Day confusion. Voters who appear at their polling place after moving can find that their voter registration records have not been updated to conform to their new driver's license addresses."
Of the states examined for this report, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania have fully implemented electronic voter registration systems so that all information sharing between DMVs and election administrators is digital. In Michigan, Colorado, and Kentucky, transmission of data between DMVs and election officials is almost entirely paperless, except for the need for a "wet ink" signature on paper for new voter registrants. Unfortunately, Alaska does not fully and electronically integrate voter data acquired through the DMV with statewide voter registration lists. However, Alaska's Division of Elections is moving towards DMV integration with the implementation of a new statewide voter registration system some time in 2015.
States still have room for improvement. In six of the states that we examined, less than half of new registrations came from DMVs during the 2012 election cycle. In the Commission's view, such low levels of participation "leave no doubt that Motor Voter is not working as intended."
The good news, however, is that more than 50 percent of new voters in four of the ten states examined in this report were registered through the DMV for the 2012 election cycle. The list includes Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Michigan did best, with 84.70 percent of new registrations coming through the DMV. The Commission praised Michigan for a system "that seamlessly integrates[s] the Motor Voter transaction into the DMV driver's license application program in such a manner as to keep a large number of voter records current and to save the DMV money in reduced staff time committed to this program." On the other hand, Colorado and North Carolina saw less than 25 percent of their voters register through the DMV during the same election cycle.
|FINDINGS BY STATE|