Delaware Senate to Consider Improvement to Voter Registration System

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On Tuesday, the Delaware Senate is expected to vote on SB 5, legislation to create an automatic voter registration system at the Delaware Division of Motor Vehicles, and potentially other state agencies. 

Statement of Claire Snyder-Hall, Director of Common Cause Delaware

Our government ‘by the people’ is stronger when more people participate. But right now, in Delaware, not everyone does.

Census estimates suggest that at least 10,000 Delawareans of voting age are not registered to vote. They also indicate that 12.6% of Delawareans have moved within the past year, and may not have updated their voter registration.

A simple change in Delaware’s voter registration process could ensure that all eligible Delawareans are registered to vote at their current address – so they can participate in upcoming elections without bureaucratic barriers.

On Tuesday, the full Senate will vote on Senate Bill 5. Common Cause Delaware urges the Senate to pass the bill. For a one-time cost of less than $22,000, Delaware can fully implement “Automatic Voter Registration” and ensure that any updated name or address received from a registered voter during a DMV license or identification card transaction will automatically be forwarded to the Department of Elections.

Other states that have implemented “AVR” have touted its benefits. For example, Georgia’s Secretary of State credits its AVR system with registering almost two-thirds of the Peach State’s voters. Oregon’s Governor called AVR a “phenomenal success” that increased registration among minorities, and less urban and less wealthy voters. Connecticut’s Secretary of State said AVR was “wildly successful” and credited it with adding 400,000 new voters and updating more than 550,000 previous registrations.

AVR has been adopted and implemented in 19 states, and is part of the “For the People Act” now being debated in the US Senate. If implemented nationwide, AVR could register up to 50 million new eligible voters while making voter registration rolls more accurate, saving money, and cutting down on confusion and other problems at the polls.

But Delaware doesn’t have to wait for Congress to pass the “For the People Act” to implement AVR here.

We urge our Senate to pass Senate Bill 5 when it comes to the floor on Tuesday.