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Automatic Voter Registration Passes Vermont Legislature with Sweeping Bipartisan Support

If Vermont’s governor signs the bill, the state will become the fourth in the country to enact automatic voter registration.

April 14, 2016

With nearly unan­im­ous support, the three-party Vermont legis­lature passed an auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion bill late Wednes­day. Under the legis­la­tion, eligible citizens will be registered to vote when they visit DMV offices, unless they opt out of regis­tra­tion.

If Gov. Peter Shum­lin signs the bill, the state will become the fourth in the coun­try to enact this ground­break­ing reform, which puts the onus on the govern­ment to securely sign up eligible citizens to vote. The state estim­ates it could add between 30,000 and 50,000 new voters within the first four years.

“Auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion saves time and money, increases the accur­acy of our statewide voter check­list, curbs the poten­tial for fraud, and protects the integ­rity of our elec­tions,” said Vermont Secret­ary of State James Condos. “As Secret­ary of State, I believe voting is a sacred right – one we must protect and encour­age by remov­ing unne­ces­sary barri­ers. Demo­cracy works best when more people parti­cip­ate. I once again applaud the Legis­lature for their hard work and thank them for their nonpar­tisan support.”

“Vermont is now the second state to endorse auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion in a major bipar­tisan way,” said Adam Gitlin, coun­sel in the Demo­cracy Program at the Bren­nan Center for Justice. "This reform is a common-sense, no-brainer idea for any state look­ing to make voting more conveni­ent and access­ible for every­one.”

Vermont joins a grow­ing national trend: West Virginia passed a bipar­tisan auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion bill in recent weeks, and Oregon and Cali­for­nia enacted the reform in 2015. Oregon has already repor­ted success, quad­rupling regis­tra­tion rates since putting its new system in place in Janu­ary. Over­all, 28 states plus the District of Columbia have considered meas­ures in 2016 to auto­mat­ic­ally register citizens.

Read more about Voter Regis­tra­tion Modern­iz­a­tion. See all of the Bren­nan Center’s Elec­tion 2016 resources.

For more inform­a­tion, or to set up an inter­view, contact Marissa Marz­ano (marissa.marz­an­o@nyu.edu, 646.292.8384).