Maine Becomes 16th State to Adopt Automatic Voter Registration

June 20, 2019

Governor Mills Signs Bill That Will Automatically Register Eligible Citizens at Designated State Agencies Unless They Opt Out

Governor Janet Mills signed a bill into law yesterday making Maine the 16th state to adopt automatic voter registration (AVR). This innovative policy, first developed by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law more than a decade ago, transforms the way Americans register to vote by allowing eligible citizens to be automatically registered at agencies like the Bureau of Motor Vehicles unless they opt out.

“At a time when states across the country are trying to make it harder for people to vote, it is great to see Maine take such a big step forward,” said Natalie Tennant, manager of state advocacy at the Brennan Center for Justice and former Secretary of State of West Virginia. “AVR is common-sense reform that benefits voters and election administrators alike.”

Automatic voter registration has led to a spike in average registration rates in every state where it’s been implemented, according to a recent analysis by the Brennan Center. The analysis shows that AVR successfully increased voter registration rates in seven states and the District of Columbia – all the places where AVR had been implemented prior to the 2018 election.

“I want to thank Governor Mills for signing the automatic voter registration bill into law,” said Maine’s Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap. “This has been a long journey and it could not have been accomplished without the help of a lot of folks – crafting this policy in a way that is practical, efficient, and to the advantage of Maine’s voters. Perhaps no other organization was more relied upon as the Brennan Center, as they were able to bring a wealth of experience from across the country to help us make the case for the best possible course of implementation.”

“Implementing AVR will streamline Maine’s voter registration system, simplify the registration process for Maine voters, and reduce the workload for our municipal clerks,” said Senator Louis Luchini. “I'm thankful for the input from the Brennan Center, who helped us craft this legislation to modernize Maine’s voter registration system.”

Oregon was the first state in the country to pass AVR in 2015. In four short years, AVR has garnered significant public attention and has been among the most popular reforms introduced in state houses across country.  In fact, AVR was one of the central components of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) passed in the House of Representatives in March.