To ensure our democracy works for everyone, elections must be free, fair, and accessible.
Voting is one of the major ways we communicate with our elected officials and speak up for what we believe in. However, even today many hardworking Americans face real barriers that interfere with their journey to the ballot box.
Currently, there are about 4.5 million Florida residents who are potentially eligible to vote but not registered. Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) could help give these citizens a voice.
Automatic Voter Registration makes commonsense updates to modernize our registration system so more eligible Americans can register, vote, and make themselves heard, while at the same time safeguarding our elections with better technology.
Legislation has been introduced in the Florida Legislature for the 2017 and 2018 Sessions. The bills have not been assigned committees. We need to make sure that our legislators know that we want to make access to the ballot easier.
AVR provides three major solutions—
- Enhanced inclusivity: AVR requires that every eligible citizen who interacts with state agencies like the Division of Motor Vehicles be automatically registered to vote, unless they decline. This simple swap from an opt-in to an opt-out system could bring hundreds of thousands of new eligible voters to the polls on Election Day.
- Increased accuracy: If a citizen is already registered, AVR will update the voter’s contact information, making sure our rolls are as up-to-date as possible. We’ve already seen how big a difference this can make—in Oregon, AVR updated 265,000 incorrect addresses in just its first 6 months.
- Fortified security: The AVR bills join our state with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a national clearinghouse that collects registration information and compares it with that of other state and federal databases to remove ineligible voters and identify new voters, increasing voting security.
We know that AVR works. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission released a report in 2017 showing Oregon’s Automatic Voter Registration law has added 375,000 new voters to the rolls in just 18 months—a 12% increase in the state’s registered voters. Similarly, Vermont’s Automatic Voter Registration law has registered over 12,300 new voters in the first six months of the law being enacted, according to a recent report by the Vermont Secretary of State.
Currently eleven states (IL, RI, VT, CT, WV, CO, GA, AK and WA) and Washington, D.C. have already adopted AVR, often with bipartisan support.
The policy is already proving to have a dramatic effect increasing voter registration and getting new voters engaged. We believe Florida should be the next state to adopt AVR and help lead the charge for a better democracy.