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History of AVR & Implementation Dates

AVR's legislative momentum and success has continued to make more strides year after year.

Last Updated: December 22, 2020
Published: June 19, 2019

In March 2015, Oregon became the first state to pass a breakthrough law to automatically register eligible citizens who interact with the DMV (except those who decline). California — with its estimated 6.6 million eligible but unregistered voters — was the next to pass AVR, adopting the policy in October 2015.

The list of states with AVR more than doubled in 2016. The West Virginia and Vermont legislatures passed AVR with strong bipartisan support, and both bills were promptly signed into law in April. Georgia began implementing an administratively-approved policy in the fall, and on November 1, the District of Columbia Council unanimously passed automatic registration legislation that the mayor signed the following month.

To close out the year, Alaskans passed a ballot measure on November 8 to institute AVR via the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD), a sum paid by the state to all eligible residents. The Illinois and New Jersey legislatures also approved automatic registration in 2016, but both bills were vetoed.


Approval Date

Implementation Date


November 2016: Ballot Measure 1 approved by voters

March 2017


October 2015: AB 1461 signed into law

April 2018


2017: AVR approved administratively

February 2017 (tested at only certain locations)


May 2016: Agreement reached between Secretary of State and DMV


District of Columbia

December 2016: B21-0194 signed into law

June 2018 


2016: AVR approved administratively

September 2016


August 2017: SB 1933 signed into law

Statutory deadline of July 2018 (Not yet implemented as of January 17, 2020)

Maine June 2019: LD 1463 signed into law


Statutory deadline of January 1, 2022



April 2018: SB 1048 enacted without governor's signature*

July 2019


August 2018: H 4320 signed into law

January 2020

November 2018: Proposal 3 approved by voters 

September 2019

November 2018: Ballot Question 5 approved by voters. 

January 2020

New Jersey

April 2018: AB 2014 signed into law

November 2018

New York

December 2020: S8806 signed into law 2023 (DMV only); 2024 (Social Service Agencies); 2025 (SUNY)


March 2015: HB 2177 signed into law

January 2016

Preliminary Results: In the November 2016 general election, nearly 100,000 votes were cast out of the 230,000 ballots mailed to individuals who had registered automatically.

Rhode Island

July 2017: HB 5702 signed into law

June 2018


April 2016: HB 458 signed into law

January 2017

Preliminary Results: In the program’s first sixth months, the state netted more than 12,000 new and updated registrations from the DMV.



April 2020: HB 235 signed into law




March 2018: HB2595 signed into law

July 2019

West Virginia

April 2016: HB 4013 signed into law

July 2021 (statutory deadline)

*The bill became law after the governor declined to either sign or veto it

Momentum for AVR carried into 2017. Colorado approved the policy administratively and began implementing it at DMV offices. In July 2017, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an AVR bill that the legislature had passed with overwhelming support. The state was the first to apply AVR to social service agencies in addition to the DMV. The law enables the secretary of state to implement the policy at social service agencies that collect the information necessary to determine voter eligibility.

Illinois approved AVR in August 2017, when Gov. Bruce Rauner — who vetoed a separate automatic registration bill the year prior — signed a bill that the legislature passed unanimously. Like Rhode Island’s reform, Illinois’ policy creates a framework for expanding automatic registration to state agencies beyond the DMV. 

2018 has been the biggest year yet for automatic registration.

Washington approved AVR in March, and Maryland and New Jersey both followed suit in April. Massachusetts join as well, passing AVR in August. They all joined Illinois and Rhode Island in applying the reform to public assistance agencies as well as the DMV. In the 2018 midterm elections, AVR ballot initiatives in both Nevada and Michigan passed with strong bipartisan margins.

Maine became the first state to pass AVR in 2019 when Governor Janet Mills signed LD 1463 into law. 

In 2020, Virginia and New York passed and signed AVR into law.

Two other states, Connecticut in 2016 and Utah in 2018, have taken recent steps to increase their voter registration rates at the DMV. Both approved electronic voter registration at DMV offices, with systems that require a “hard stop” for voter registration during transactions. Each customer cannot complete their transaction—such as applying for a new license or updating their address—without either affirmatively accepting or declining registration (unlike AVR, individuals must still opt-in to register to vote). As of December 2020, Connecticut transitioned their AVR system from an opt-out system to an opt-in system.

For more information on why states should implement automatic voter registration, see The Case for Automatic Voter Registration. This report urges adoption of the four components of a permanent registration system, with AVR as its central plank. For in-depth answers describing how states can use existing technology to implement automatic registration, see Automatic and Permanent Voter Registration: How it Works