Advances in Voter Registration Modernization
- Electronic Voter Registration: Delaware launched electronic voter registration at DMV offices in the 1990s, and fully eliminated the use of paper for DMV-based registration in 2009. Individuals use an electronic pad to submit party preference, review data already on file or keyed in by the clerk, and verify that they are Delaware residents and U.S. citizens. They then sign their name on the pad, creating a digitized signature. Voter registration information is transferred immediately to election officials. Delaware also has partial electronic voter registration at public service agencies. During this process, some information is transferred electronically to elections officials, while a form with the voter’s signature must be physically mailed.
- Online Voter Registration: Delaware launched online voter registration through the Department of Elections in 2006. Eligible citizens can use the system to register to vote or update their registration information even if they do not have a state driver’s license or non-driver ID. New registrants without a state ID can sign the registration by uploading an image of their signature or drawing their signature on the screen.
- Portability: Registered voters who move within the state without updating their registration can, on Election Day, either cast a regular ballot at their old polling place or cast a regular ballot after filling out a change of address form at their new polling place.
- Pre-Registration: 16- and 17-year-olds can preregister to vote through the DMV. Those who preregister can vote once they turn 18 without needing to re-register.
Gains from Voter Registration Modernization in Delaware
The steps Delaware has taken thus far have yielded financial benefits for the state. For example:
- During a January 2010 interview with Brennan Center staff, Delaware election officials reported saving the cost of printing an estimated 1,000 pages a day during election years at DMVs due to electronic registration, and also reported greater accuracy in processing applications.
- The electronic system reduced the amount of time each registration transaction takes from 90 seconds to 30 seconds, resulting in lower labor costs for the DMV. The Department of Elections reported total annual labor cost savings of $200,000 in the program’s first year.
- Between November 2014 and November 2016, the state received 10,609 new voter registration applications through its online portal.
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