Skip Navigation

Automatic and Permanent Voter Registration: How It Works

This bold new plan is at the center of public debate in 2015, with Oregon and Cali­for­nia passing laws and top candid­ates embra­cing reform. Our new analysis explains exactly how auto­matic regis­tra­tion works and how other states can move to imple­ment it.

Read the Intro­duc­tion

Down­load the PDF

View on Scribd


The voter regis­tra­tion systems in much of our coun­try are not up to par. One in four eligible citizens is not on the voter rolls, and one in eight regis­tra­tion records is invalid or has seri­ous errors, accord­ing to the Pew Center on the States. The source of the prob­lem? Outdated systems using outdated tech­no­logy. Despite the ubiquity of computers in modern life, too many states still rely on ink and paper for voter regis­tra­tion.

Fortu­nately, there is a solu­tion with the poten­tial to clean up the rolls, save states money, and enfran­chise voters. If states take a few simple steps to modern­ize voter regis­tra­tion, we can sign up as many as 50 million more eligible citizens and dramat­ic­ally improve the accur­acy of the rolls. Over the past decade, many states have adop­ted the key compon­ents of modern voter regis­tra­tion, and in 2015, Cali­for­nia and Oregon enacted break­through laws to auto­mat­ic­ally register voters when they inter­act with motor vehicle agen­cies. These are tremend­ous steps in the right direc­tion. If we continue along this path, the coun­try is headed toward trans­form­at­ive reform. 

Auto­matic Perman­ent Voter Regis­tra­tion: How It Works