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Related Advancements in Voter Registration

Certain states that have come short of passing AVR have done other voter registration reforms.

Published: July 24, 2018

AVR comes on the heels of additional modernizing reforms that states have been implementing for over a decade. Want to know where your state stands in modernizing its voter registration infrastructure? See our state-by-state guide.

Electronic Voter Registration

As described above, electronic registration is a key building block of AVR. It gives citizens the choice to be electronically registered when they do business with a government office—such as the DMV or veterans’ benefits agency—by digitally transferring their voter registration information to the appropriate elections office. This reform increases registration rates at government agencies, helps prevent errors and typos in states’ registration rolls, and saves states money. At least 36 states plus DC currently or will soon have electronic voter registration at DMV offices, and at least seven states have approved policies to electronically transfer voter registration information from social service agencies. Some of these states have taken the next step and approved AVR, while others still require voters to affirmatively opt-in to voter registration.

Connecticut and Utah, in particular, have recently implemented new policies to bolster registration rates. Both states recently reformed their system to require a “hard stop” during each transaction at the DMV for the customer to affirmatively accept or decline voter registration. Unlike AVR, the reformed systems in Connecticut and Utah are still opt-in. Connecticut implemented the policy via a 2016 agreement between the Secretary of State’s office and the DMV, while Utah enacted legislation in March 2018.

Online Voter Registration

Online registration allows voters to register—and to check and update their registration records—through a secure online portal they can access wherever they have an internet connection. Like electronic registration, this reform makes voter registration more convenient while lowering the costs associated with processing paper forms. Forty states plus DC currently or will soon offer online voter registration. Most states require individuals to use a driver’s license or ID card to register online, but some, such as Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri, allow those without state IDs to use their online systems.

Election Day Registration

Election Day registration enables individuals to register to vote or update their registration on Election Day, either at the polls or at another location designated by election officials. This reform helps boost turnout by ensuring that all eligible voters are able to cast ballots, and it is no surprise that all six states with the highest turnout in 2016 had implemented the policy. Sixteen states plus DC currently or will soon offer Election Day registration. In addition, Maryland and North Carolina allow voters to register or update their existing registration during the early voting period, but not on Election Day.