Georgia Needs Automatic Voter Registration

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Nine states and the District of Columbia have already approved automatic voter registration, and 31 states have introduced automatic registration proposals this year. Illinois is the latest state to approve automatic voter registration; we want Georgia to be the next to approve automatic voter registration!

Automatic voter registration, a new reform that will modernize voter registration and dramatically increase registration rates, is gaining momentum around the country. 

Automatic voter registration makes two transformative, yet simple, changes to voter registration: 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.

In March 2015, Oregon became the first to pass a breakthrough law to automatically register eligible citizens who have driver’s licenses (except those who decline). The state has already seen significant registration increases since implementing the policy in January 2016. California — with its estimated 6.6 million eligible but unregistered voters — was the next to pass automatic registration, adopting the policy in October 2015.

Advances in Voter Registration Modernization in Georgia (as of 2/1/17)

  • Electronic Voter Registration: Georgia launched electronic voter registration at the Department of Driver Services (DDS) in 2009. Individuals submit information on paper and clerks input responses electronically. Registrants then sign an electronic pad to create a digital signature, and the information is transferred electronically to the Secretary of State’s office each night.
  • Online Voter Registration: Georgia launched online voter registration through the Secretary of State’s office in 2014. Eligible citizens with a state driver’s license or non-driver ID can use the system to register to vote and update their registration information.
  • Electronic Pollbooks: Georgia employs electronic pollbooks statewide.

Gains from Voter Registration Modernization in Georgia (as of 2/1/17)

The steps Georgia has taken thus far have yielded increases in voter registration and financial benefits for the state, according to election officials. For example:  

  • During an interview with Brennan Center staff, Georgia election officials reported cost savings from reduced application processing time due to online voter registration. They also described that electronic voter registration reduced printing, sorting, and mailing expenses.
  • Over 100,000 people used the state’s online voter registration system to either submit a new registration or update an existing one during the first year of the program’s launch. 

Resources: 

Automatic Voter Registration Analysis: http://bit.ly/AVRAnalysis 

The Case for Automatic Voter Registration: http://bit.ly/CaseforAVR

Automatic & Permanent Voter Registration & How it works: http://bit.ly/HowAVRWorks



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