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Utah Leads the Way in Voter Registration Modernization

Today Utah election officials announced new efforts to modernize their voter registration process.

  • Nhu-Y Ngo
January 15, 2011

Today Utah election officials announced new efforts to modernize their voter registration process.  “We now look forward to working with Pew to further modernize our voter registration process,” Republican Governor Gary R. Herbert said in a press release on his website in advance of a public event.

Utah has been active in recent years in improving its voter registration system.  The bipartisan Governor’s Commission on Strengthening Utah’s Democracy recommended last year that Utah repeal its current voter registration deadlines and institute Election Day registration and also recommended that the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, which is in charge of election administration, use information submitted to other government agencies (such as driver’s licensing offices and public benefits agencies) to automatically register eligible voters and/or to update the voters’ records.  The Commission also encouraged the state to implement online registration, which it has since done, to great success.

Utah’s commitment to upgrade its election administration further confirms the fact that voter registration modernization is an issue that receives wide-spread bipartisan support and benefits democracy.  As we have researched and written about before, when election administrators upgrade their registration systems, they save hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, improve voter roll accuracy and security, and register more voters.

In addition to Utah, numerous states have begun the process of bringing their voter registration processes into the modern age.  At least 17 states have fully or substantially automated the voter registration process at DMVs.  And at least 11 states currently or will soon offer online voter registration.

We encourage other states to follow Utah’s lead.  State legislators, officials, and advocates who are interested in this crucial reform are invited to review our brief, Components of a Bill to Modernize the Voter Registration System and our materials on voter registration modernization.  As many states face very real budget shortfalls this year, it makes sense for them to implement this important reform, which both strengthens election integrity and saves precious state dollars.