Our antiquated and haphazard system of voter registration is the single biggest problem in election administration today. Many states still rely on ink and paper processes to collect and transfer voter registration information. Paper-based systems are inefficient and rife with the opportunity for error resulting from illegible or incomplete information or data entry problems.
The reliance on antiquated technology creates barriers to access to the ballot, resulting in millions of voters being left off the rolls or with inaccurate registration records. Moreover, the paper system is wasteful and out of date when available modern technology is more consistent with citizens’ expectations for the use of electronic transactions in all facets of their personal and professional lives.
The Brennan Center has conducted extensive research regarding voter roll management and opportunities to modernize voter registration for over a decade. This research has resulted in the organization’s signature proposal: voter registration modernization. States should upgrade their voter registration systems in four specific ways:
- Establish online voter registration.
- Establish electronic registration of all consenting citizens when they interact with a wide range of government agencies.
- Make registration portable, keeping voters on the rolls even when they move.
- Provide fail-safe procedures to ensure that eligible voters whose information is not on the rolls or not up to date can correct the information online or at the polls.
When implemented, Brennan Center research has shown that VRM results in:
- More accurate, reliable and better managed voter rolls;
- Less opportunity for fraud;
- Increased registration rates; and
- Fewer problems on Election Day.
Brennan Center Resources:
- Voter Registration in a Digital Age
- Fact Sheet: VRM Momentum in the States
- Making the List
- Expanding Democracy: Voter Registration Around the World
- Permanent Voter Registration
- When Voters Move
- Government Lists: How Ready are they for Automatic Registration?
- Automatic Registration in the United States: The Selective Service Example
- Registering Military and Overseas Citizens to Vote
- Voter Purges
- How to Fix Long Lines
- Modernizing Ohio’s System for Registering Voters