Every American has the fundamental right to vote, and have that vote counted. And in a day and age when we can use computers and smartphones to do everything from paying our utility bills to reading the day’s headlines, there is no reason registering to vote shouldn’t be easy, accurate and automatic. But advances in technology have not made it into most of our election systems, and along with nearly half the country, we are still using pen and paper to register to vote.
Our outdated, inaccurate systems often create real barriers to voter registration. An estimated 1 in 8 national voter records is either invalid or has serious issues, many due to human errors from processing paper applications. And it’s estimated that, in 2012, more than 1 million eligible voters were turned away at the polls because of registration issues.
We can do better.
We’ve figured out how to let people pay their taxes using 21st-century tools. Shouldn’t we be able to do the same with our voting systems? To modernize the vote we should start at the point of entry — registration — and make sure more people are registered to vote automatically.
Our idea is simple — anytime you interact with a government agency your voter registration is updated electronically and automatically.
Recently states from Illinois to New Jersey and Washington to Maryland have passed automatic voter registration. By 2019, more than 100 million Americans, from could live in states with automatic voter registration. It’s time for our leaders to modernize our voting systems, starting with automatic voter registration.
CONNPIRG Students and our national network has a long history of working on the ground to increase voter participation. We’re advocating for a number of policies to modernize the vote including automatic voter registration, same day voter registration, early voting, and no-excuse absentee voting.
We have accumulated a vast wealth of knowledge about what processes work and what it takes to get citizens registered — as well as the local relationships we need to organize key stakeholders to advocate for modernization. Getting more people registered to vote and moving our country toward universal registration are among the best strategies for increasing voter participation.
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