Registering to vote should be easy, accurate and automatic.

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Our outdated, inaccurate systems often create real barriers to voter registration.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.

  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S EASY</h4><p>When you go to the DMV or another government agency and update your information, it automatically updates your voter registration.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S AUTOMATIC</h4><p>Under automatic voter registration, the default assumption is that you are registered to vote, instead of pre-supposing that you are not. Under this system, eligible voters are automatically added to the rolls.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S MORE ACCURATE</h4><p>An estimated 1 in 8 voter records on the rolls is either invalid or has serious issues, many due to human errors from processing paper applications.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S MORE DEMOCRATIC</h4><p>Automatic voter registration could add millions of eligible voters to the rolls, bringing more voices into our elections and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be heard. </p>
Gaining Momentum

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.

PennPIRG and our national network has a long history of working on the ground to increase voter participation. Through the New Voters Project and Community Voters Project, 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.

Illinois PIRG State Director Abe Scarr announces the passage of an automatic voter registration bill in 2017.
Office of the Cook County Clerk
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Top photo: Alexandru Nika via Shutterstock.com