National Voter Registration Day: A Plan to Register Every Eligible American

September 22, 2015

Today, to celebrate National Voter Registration Day, the Brennan Center for Justice released a new paper outlining its proposal to automatically register every eligible American to vote.

Voter Registration Modernization (VRM) is a comprehensive plan to upgrade America’s outdated and error-prone voting system, which blocks millions of eligible citizens from the polls. Research shows the policy could add up to 50 million eligible voters while saving money, increasing efficiency and accuracy, and curbing the potential for fraud.

Here are VRM’s four components:

  • First, it requires states to adopt electronic systems and take responsibility for registering citizens so they are automatically added to the voter rolls when they interact with government agencies.
  • Second, it makes sure that once citizens are signed up, they remain registered when they move within their states.
  • Third, it allows citizens to register to vote online.
  • Finally, it gives people the opportunity to register or update their information at the polls.

“Every citizen should have a fair and equal opportunity to get, and stay, registered to vote,” the report reads. “Voter Registration Modernization offers a common sense, nonpartisan opportunity to increase participation and protect election integrity. It gives both left and right what they demand. It enfranchises more people. It saves money and reduces error. And it protects better against fraud. Citizens must take the responsibility to vote, but government should do its part by clearing bureaucratic obstacles to the ballot box.”

The Brennan Center’s updated proposal comes as states across the country are taking steps to modernize voting and move toward universal registration.

Overall, legislators in 17 states plus Washington, D.C. have introduced bills this year that would automatically register citizens. In March, Oregon became the first state to enact this breakthrough reform. New Jersey’s legislature passed an automatic registration bill in June, and California lawmakers passed one earlier this month. If all three states implement these bills, 16 percent of the nation’s population would live in states with automatic registration. This momentum has also carried into the 2016 presidential race: Both former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have endorsed automatic, universal registration.

Read the Brennan Center for Justice’s full proposal here.

See more about how state’s across the country have implemented parts of the plan.