Voter Registration Modernization

The nation’s broken voter registration system is a chief cause of long lines and Election Day chaos. Many states rely on a blizzard of paper records that are rife with error while leaving out eligible voters. The Brennan Center’s signature proposal to modernize voting would harness proven technology to ensure that every eligible voter is permanently registered. The move would add 50 million to the rolls, cost less, and curb the potential for fraud. Already, 48 states and the District of Columbia — without fanfare or partisan wrangling — have implemented important elements of the plan. Read our fact sheet explaining how a 21st century voting system would work.

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The Brennan Center supports safeguards for voters and standards for election administration at the federal level — including a national effort to modernize voter registration.

This new reform to modernize voting could dramatically increase registration rates. It's gaining momentum after Oregon passed a breakthrough law in March 2015, California in September 2015, West Virginia and Vermont in April 2016 and President Barack Obama embraced it in February.

The reliance on antiquated technology creates barriers to access to the ballot, resulting in millions of voters being left off the rolls or with inaccurate registration records.

The Brennan Center works closely with its federal, state, and local allies to modernize voter registration. This page includes all advocacy and campaign-related materials that can be useful for partners seeking to upgrade registration.

In March 2015, Oregon became the first state in the country to adopt automatic registration when Governor Kate Brown signed the “New Motor Voter” bill.

Clinton’s transformative plan to automatically register voters at 18 could add 50 million to the rolls, cut costs, and curb the potential for fraud. All candidates, from both parties, should tell us what they would do to improve our democracy.

Amid the high-profile 2016 election season, there is a strong drive to improve rather than restrict voting access in the states, but many Americans will still face obstacles at the polls this year.

In advance of this crucial midterm election, this report details new voting restrictions put in place over the past few years, laws in place for the first time in 2014, and major lawsuits that could affect this year’s elections. See all our 2014 voting resources.

Resources from organizations the Brennan Center partners with, which substantiate the importance of voter registration modernization.