Across the country, Democratic politicians are pushing plans to make it easier for people to vote. Chief among these plans is the proposed enactment of Automatic Voter Registration. Voter registration in many states currently stands as an obstacle for more people to vote. In many states voter registration is required a month before an election, and requires a proactive action to be taken to accomplish that task. People are leading busier and busier lives. Between work and family and taking care of day to day necessities, people often forget to take the time to register for something that is not on the immediate horizon, and is not seen as being as necessary to their own personal lives as say a doctor’s appointment, or their child’s teacher conference, or any number of things that occupy the day to day thoughts of American adults. Curiously, for all the blather from Republicans about doing away with red tape for companies, they seem perfectly content to keep the extra red tape in place when it comes to voter registration.
Democratic politicians, on the other hand, would like to see this red tape eliminated, and that can be done very easily through Automatic Voter Registration. Put simply, if you interact with a government office to do anything that requires the presentation of a state or federal government ID, Automatic Voter Registration would opt you in as being registered to vote. If you go the Department of Motor Vehicles to get your driver’s license renewed, Automatic Voter Registration would also register you to vote at the same time. If you apply for a state license or benefit, such as Medicaid, where you have to present all of the same relevant information that would be required to vote, Automatic Voter Registration would also register you to vote at the same time. This process not only saves time for voters, basically killing two birds with one stone, and results in more voters being registered, it also saves money for the government because the process is streamlined and eliminates such extra costs as mailing out registration forms, etc. In addition, Automatic Voter Registration helps keeps voter rolls up to date, eliminating many errors that could occur from out of date records, and many instances where somebody shows up to vote and their out of date information requires the entry of a provisional ballot.
Thirteen states and D.C. have already enacted Automatic Voter Registration, and have seen good results:
The results have been exciting. Since Oregon became the first state in the nation to implement AVR in 2016, the Beaver State has seen registration rates quadruple at DMV offices. In the first six months after AVR was implemented in Vermont on New Year’s Day 2017, registration rates jumped 62 percent when compared to the first half of 2016.
The benefits of AVR extend beyond increasing the number of people registering. The policy keeps voter rolls more accurate by creating a constant stream of updates between registration agencies and election officials and by reducing the odds of mistakes caused by processing paper registration forms by hand. Cleaner rolls reduce errors that cause delays on Election Day and prevent eligible voters from casting regular ballots. AVR also lowers costs. For example, the transition to electronic transfer allows states to save money on printing, mailing, and data entry.
There is really no good argument against Automatic Voter Registration. It is more efficient for everyone involved: voters, state agencies, and voter databases. The only reason why someone would oppose Automatic Voter Registration would be because that someone simply opposes people being able to vote, which seems to be the philosophy of the Republican party these days. So, let’s take a look at some candidates who are showing their support for Automatic Voter Registration, and some who are not.
In Arizona, where Arizona House Bill 2052 has been sponsored to bring about Automatic Voter Registration, the Democratic candidate for Governor, David Garcia, supports the bill:
He supports automatic voter registration, which would modernize the state’s electoral system, save taxpayers’ money, increase electoral accuracy and improve voter participation.
The incumbent Republican governor of Arizona has been mum on the issue, while Republicans in the state legislature have been busy blocking the proposal:
For nearly three months now, Representative Doug Coleman, a Republican from Apache Junction, has refused to even schedule the bill for a hearing in the House government committee, which he chairs.
My plan for FL voting:
✅ automatic voter registration
✅ restoration of voting rights
✅ give people a reason to vote #LeadBlue17
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) June 17, 2017
In Minnesota, where two bills remain in committee with no Republican support, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Tim Walz, who is currently a U.S. Congressman, co-sponsored legislation to enact National Automatic Voter Registration in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In Wisconsin, where the incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker has been doing everything possible to suppress voters, the Democratic candidate for Governor, Tony Evers, has made Automatic Voter Registration a part of his official agenda:
Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers on Monday released his first set of proposed changes to state government, including automatic voter registration for voting-age adults, nonpartisan redistricting and the elimination of the state’s quasi-public economic development agency.
In a Democracy, voting should be encouraged and made as easy as possible. It is very illustrative of what Republicans think about democracy when they make it more difficult for people to vote. It is also illustrative of what Democrats think about democracy when they try to enact laws that cut through the red tape of voter registration, increasing voter participation, streamlining state agencies, cutting costs, and reducing voter database errors. One party wants good government and citizen participation. The other party: not so much.