In today’s 21st century, with rapid advancements in technology, consumers expect convenience and accessibility. Voting and elections are no exception, and Hawaii has already implemented significant convenience reforms, such as online voter registration and same day voter registration (available in 2018). Updating Hawaii’s election system to incorporate Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) is an important next step in modernizing our elections.
Currently when eligible citizens apply for or renew their driver’s license or state ID, they have to fill out a voter affidavit in addition to the standard license application form in order to be registered to vote. Automatic Voter Registration reverses this. Instead of having to opt into the registration program, all eligible citizens are registered to vote by default, except for those who choose not to be.
Additionally, voter registration information would be electronically transferred from the licensing agency to the county clerk for processing, eliminating the need for the physical transfer of paper forms and manual data entry.
By implementing Automatic Voter Registration:
- Elections will be more secure. Due to the increased accuracy of voter rolls- fewer typos, duplicates, lost forms, more frequent updates when people move, etc. the chances of voter fraud will be reduced. The use of an encrypted system rather than paper forms to transfer data, will also make our elections more secure. Additionally, verifying eligibility occurs twice, first by the licensing agency, and then by election officials, will provide an extra layer of security.
- The state and counties will save money. Thanks to increased processing efficiency, it costs approximately 30 times less to process electronic applications compared to paper applications. Additionally, startup costs will be minimal because AVR can be integrated with Hawaii’s existing online voter registration system, creating one unified database.
- We can reduce another barrier to voting. A core principle of democracy is that everyone's voice is heard thus every American should have equal access to the ballot box. AVR makes it easier and more convenient to vote.
Automatic Voter Registration works. Oregon was the first state to implement this system in 2016. Over 270,000 were registered via Automatic Voter Registration, of those 42.73% (or 97,184) voted in the 2016 General Election, which helped Oregon set a new state record for number of votes cast.
Common Cause Hawaii has been a leading advocate for AVR and will continue advocate for the implementation of AVR in Hawaii. If you would like to get involved, and help us by contacting your legislator, submitting testimony, writing a letter to the editor, etc. in support of AVR, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
 Center for Secure and Modern Elections. (2016). Modernelections.org. Retrieved 23 December 2016, from http://modernelections.org/index.html