Today, thousands will celebrate #NationalIceCreamCone Day. While it may not be quite as tasty, today is also National Voter Registration Day. It’s a holiday that should have a wide audience and broad support, because there are 51 million eligible voters who are not registered to vote. Events like today’s can help close the gap. If all the Twitter posts for ice cream also resulted in thousands of eligible voters registering to vote, our democracy would be stronger.
There are millions of reasons why Americans should celebrate National Voter Registration Day. In 2008, 6 million Americans did not vote because they missed a registration deadline or didn’t know how to register. On Election Day 2014, 40,000 Californians tried to register and vote only to realize that it was too late.
Notwithstanding historically low voter turnout and many high–profile efforts to suppress the vote, some lawmakers recognize that it’s well past time to make voter registration simpler and more accurate. Several states are considering or implementing voter-friendly reforms, such as automatic, online, electronic, and same day registration.
Momentum is growing for automatic voter registration, a system that shifts the onus from voters to the government. It would ensure that all eligible citizens who wish to be registered are, with current and accurate records. In March, Oregon became the first state to pass a breakthrough law to automatically register eligible voters. Following Oregon’s example, New Jersey and California’s legislatures both passed laws to establish systems of automatic registration. These measures await the signatures of each states governor. Govs. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) and Chris Christie (R-N.J.) should do so without delay. This year, legislators in at least 17 states and the District of Columbia have introduced bills for automatic registration.
Additionally, 24 states and Washington D.C. currently offer online voter registration, and six states are in the process of building such systems. In 2015 alone, 10 states moved forward with online registration. Thirty states either have, or will soon have, electronic registration systems — allowing voter registration information to be digitally transferred to election officials when conducting a transaction at a government agency. Another 15 states have, or will soon have, same-day registration — allowing eligible citizens to register to vote at the polls.
Voters that live in states that have not yet fully modernized their voter registration systems should encourage their legislators to do so, and register to vote to hold sway in the next election. If you have not yet registered to vote, you can access your state’s voter registration application here.
Today is also the last day of summer, so consider pairing your ice cream cone with a voter registration application — it costs less money, and it won’t melt away.