U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) today introduced the Voter Registration Modernization Act, which would provide national standards for secure and accessible online registration and help bring America’s election system into the 21st century.
Voter registration is our nation’s single biggest election administration problem. More than 50 million eligible Americans are not registered, and 24 million registration records have serious errors. Antiquated procedures that rely on ink-and-paper forms are largely to blame.
The Brennan Center for Justice’s signature proposal — Voter Registration Modernization — would help boost participation, enhance accuracy, and increase efficiency. Online registration is a core element of this reform. It is already available in 24 states, controlled by both political parties.
Gillibrand’s Voter Registration Modernization Act will expand the number of states that offer online registration, set basic national standards, and study best practices, among other elements.
The Brennan Center submitted a statement in support of Gillibrand’s bill. Read the statement here.
Federal efforts to support the right to vote are especially critical with many Americans facing voting barriers and the loss of key voting protections.
Since the 2010 election, new voting restrictions are slated to be in place in 22 states — 15 for the first time this year — and ongoing lawsuits continue in seven states. It also comes after a bill to restore a core Voting Rights Act protection, gutted by the Supreme Court last year, has stalled in Congress.
“Americans do so many things online these days, and registering to vote shouldn’t be any different,” said Nicole Austin-Hillery, Director and Counsel of the Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C., office. “It is time to bring our election system into the 21st century and give voters more convenience and choice about how they register. The Senate should move quickly to pass this bill, which provides a rare and critical opportunity to provide bipartisan national standards to improve the voting system.”
“We need to change the way we think about voter registration,” added Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Center’s Democracy Program. “We have the technology to add 50 million new voters and make sure no one loses the right to vote because they move or are kicked off the rolls. If you’re an eligible voter, you should be a registered voter, period.”
Benefits of Online Voter Registration
- Boosts Participation. California received more than 1 million applications within the first month of implementing its system. Online registration is particularly helpful in reaching young voters.
- Increases Accuracy. There is no duplicative data entry because voters are responsible for entering their information directly into the system. This greatly reduces illegible and incomplete registration forms. Registrations processed electronically have been found to be more reliable.
- Saves Money. Processing paper registration forms, especially during peak periods near Election Day, is cost-intensive. Online voter registration streamlines the process. States with online registration report cost savings ranging from 25 cents to 2 dollars per registration application.
See all of the Brennan Center’s Election 2014 resources.