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Automatic Voter Registration: Why and How

On May 18, 2016, the Brennan Center for Justice hosted the first national conference on automatic voter registration. Nearly 400 attendees from 20 states convened to discuss this breakthrough reform.

Published: May 16, 2016
Eric Holder

On May 18, 2016, the Bren­nan Center for Justice hosted the first national confer­ence on auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion. Nearly 400 attendees from 20 states convened to discuss this break­through reform.  Confer­ence parti­cipants traded ideas on strategies and coali­tion build­ing, and heard from experts in polit­ical and beha­vi­oral science, voter mobil­iz­a­tion, immig­ra­tion, tech­no­logy, domestic viol­ence, disab­il­ity rights, elect­oral admin­is­tra­tion, and user-friendly design. The confer­ence also featured the voices of legis­lat­ors, elec­tion offi­cials, and advoc­ates who have worked or are work­ing on bring­ing auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion to their states.

The event came at a time when the momentum for auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion is only grow­ing stronger. In 2015, Oregon and Cali­for­nia become the first states to enact the policy; West Virginia and Vermont followed suit in early 2016. And, on the even­ing of the confer­ence, Connecti­cut became the first state to pass auto­matic regis­tra­tion through admin­is­trat­ive action. Such a shift would bring 50 million new voters to the rolls.

The conven­ing opened with an address from Cali­for­nia Secret­ary of State Alex Padilla. Secret­ary Padilla, who cham­pioned the reform in his state, explained how auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion works like an invit­a­tion to the “demo­cracy party,” invig­or­at­ing new portions of the elect­or­ate who had not previ­ously been polit­ic­ally engaged. Former Attor­ney General Eric Holder delivered a keynote address, in which he high­lighted the enfran­chising role auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion plays when Amer­ic­ans are faced with continu­ing attempts to make it more diffi­cult to exer­cise the funda­mental right to vote.

Video of these remarks, along with a panel discuss­ing the bene­fits of auto­matic voter regis­tra­tion and other selec­ted mater­i­als, are below.

WATCH: FORMER ATTOR­NEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER ON AUTO­MATIC VOTER REGIS­TRA­TION

Read Hold­er’s Remarks

 

WATCH: CALI­FOR­NIA SECRET­ARY OF STATE ALEX PADILLA ON AUTO­MATIC VOTER REGIS­TRA­TION & PANEL DISCUS­SION ON THE POWER OF AUTO­MATIC VOTER REGIS­TRA­TION IN A CHAN­GING AMER­ICA

 

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