Brennan Center for Justice
Automatic voter registration is gaining traction quickly in the states. Since March 2015, twelve states plus the District of Columbia have authorized the policy. Automatic registration makes two transformative, yet simple, changes to the voter registration process: Eligible citizens who interact with government agencies are registered to vote unless they decline, and agencies transfer voter registration information electronically to election officials. These two changes create a seamless process that is more convenient and less error-prone for both voters and government officials. This policy boosts registration rates, cleans up the rolls, makes voting more convenient, and reduces the potential for voter fraud, all while lowering costs.
Automatic voter registration is the gold standard of modernized registration, and it builds on other reforms to bring voter registration to the 21st Century—which are increasingly commonplace across the country. Already, 49 states and the District of Columbia—without fanfare or partisan wrangling—have moved forward with important elements of voter registration modernization, including electronic registration at DMVs, online registration, Election Day registration, portability, and preregistration. Additionally, many states are currently considering ways to modernize their systems.