Automatic Voter Registration: Why and How

May 18, 2016

On May 18, 2016, the Brennan Center for Justice hosted the first national conference on automatic voter registration. Nearly 400 attendees from 20 states convened to discuss this breakthrough reform.  Conference participants traded ideas on strategies and coalition building, and heard from experts in political and behavioral science, voter mobilization, immigration, technology, domestic violence, disability rights, electoral administration, and user-friendly design. The conference also featured the voices of legislators, election officials, and advocates who have worked or are working on bringing automatic voter registration to their states.

The event came at a time when the momentum for automatic voter registration is only growing stronger. In 2015, Oregon and California become the first states to enact the policy; West Virginia and Vermont followed suit in early 2016. And, on the evening of the conference, Connecticut became the first state to pass automatic registration through administrative action. Such a shift would bring 50 million new voters to the rolls.

The convening opened with an address from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Secretary Padilla, who championed the reform in his state, explained how automatic voter registration works like an invitation to the “democracy party,” invigorating new portions of the electorate who had not previously been politically engaged. Former Attorney General Eric Holder delivered a keynote address, in which he highlighted the enfranchising role automatic voter registration plays when Americans are faced with continuing attempts to make it more difficult to exercise the fundamental right to vote.

Video of these remarks, along with a panel discussing the benefits of automatic voter registration and other selected materials, are below.

WATCH: FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER ON AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION

Read Holder's Remarks

WATCH: BRENNAN CENTER PRESIDENT WELCOMES ATTENDEES AND INTRODUCES CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE ALEX PADILLA

WATCH: CALIFORNIA SECRETARY OF STATE ALEX PADILLA ON AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION

WATCH: EXPANDING THE ELECTORATE: THE POWER OF AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION IN A CHANGING AMERICA

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