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Expert Brief

Policy Differences of Automatic Voter Registration

The details of AVR vary state-by-state. Here is a full list of all those differences and each state's specific policies.

Last Updated: July 29, 2020
Published: June 19, 2019

While opting out and electronically transferring information are the two necessary components of AVR, states’ policies still vary along the following dimensions (the chart on the next page describes each state’s policy): 

  • Method of approval: Thirteen states plus DC enacted AVR legislatively, three did so administratively without passing new laws, and three approved the policy through a ballot initiative.
  • Covered agencies: Nine states plus DC are implementing AVR at DMV offices alone, seven are implementing it at DMV offices plus other social service agencies, and Alaska implemented AVR through its Permanent Fund Dividend application.
  • Opportunity to decline registration: Thirteen states plus DC provide each customer an opportunity to decline registration during the agency transaction, and three provide the opportunity to decline via a mailer sent to the customer after the transaction.
  • Explicit protections for certain groups: Nine states plus DC include statutory provisions protecting individuals who become inadvertently registered, and three states explicitly help keep confidential the addresses of domestic violence survivors who interact with AVR agencies.
  • Public-education requirements: Five states explicitly call for campaigns to educate the public about AVR.

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State AVR Policies