Eliminating Barriers to Voting: Election Day Registration

November 30, 2001

On November 30, 2001, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law and Demos co-sponsored a conference entitled: "Eliminating Barriers to Voting: Election Day Registration." The purposes of the conference were to explore the potential impact of Election Day Registration (EDR); to discuss the administration of EDR and to learn how concerns raised about EDR are being addressed in states that have long experience with the system; and to discuss the prospects for advancing EDR in additional states.

The conference proceeded in four stages:

Opening remarks by Burt Neuborne, legal director of the Brennan Center and John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at NYU School of Law, about the potential value of Election Day Registration

A panel of experts—Curtis Gans of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate; Professor Francis Fox Piven of the City University of New York; and Professor Raymond Wolfinger of the University of California at Berkeley—addressed the question: What Is the Relationship Between Election Day Registration and Voter Turnout?

A panel of experienced election administrators—Hon. Julie Flynn, Deputy Secretary of State from Maine; Hon. Joan Growe, former Minnesota Secretary of State; and Julietta Henry, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Board of Election Commissioners—discussed the question: How Do20We Make Election Day Registration Work

A panel of citizen activists and reform-minded legislators—Antonio Gonzalez, President of the Southwest Voter Education Project and the William C. Velzquez Institute; Hon. Andrew Fleischmann, member of the Connecticut House of Representatives; Larry Marx, Executive Director of Wisconsin Citizen Action; and Hon. Scott Stringer, member of the New York State Assembly—helped us to consider: What Is the Future of Election Day Registration?

This report shares with a wider audience the insights offered by conference participants. With the exception of the first section, which closely tracks Professor Neubornes inspirational opening remarks, the report does not seek to reproduce verbatim the panelists remarks. For that purpose, a 75-page transcript of the conference has been prepared and is available on the Brennan Center website. Those interested in more information about the issues introduced in this report may obtain from Demos its policy paper, entitled Expanding the Vote: The Practice and Promise of Election Day Registration. The Brennan Center and Demos can also supply a selective bibliography of academic studies on EDR and voting.