2016 Electoral Reform Bills

Posted by Elliot Louthen on February 18, 2016

Updated on February 26, 2016

2016 is shaping up to be a promising legislative year for election reform. Just a few weeks into this year’s session, state legislators have introduced dozens of bills to advance electoral reform, illustrating the broad impact of FairVote’s thought leadership.

We separately covered the impressive progress ranked choice voting has made in a total of 13 states, but states are moving forward on a variety of other innovations as well. From improving voter registration to lowering the voting age to moving closer to a National Popular Vote. The sheer number is testament to the progress of these ideas and the evolving debate to improve our political system, especially at the state level.

Engaging young people in our political process is also a key issue, as eight states consider pre-registration of soon-to-be eligible voters and three states (including Iowa) weigh allowing seventeen year olds to participate in primaries if they will be eighteen by the general election. Legislators in both California and Washington DC have sparked a conversation around lowering the voting age to sixteen through a state constitutional amendment and district bill respectively.

The National Popular Vote interstate compact has legislation in four states, promoting dialogue on reform as the presidential campaign cycle heats up throughout 2016. Oregon and California both adopted automatic voter registration last year, and this year, at least eleven new states will consider registering eligible voters automatically.

As a thought leader on all these issues, FairVote is looking forward to these bills progressing and hopefully watching other states follow in their footsteps of improving our democracy.


Automatic Voter Registration

  • Arizona (HB2097/SB1007/SB1392): registers citizens to vote when applying or reapplying for a driver’s license unless they opt out

  • Hawaii (HB1593/HB1633/SB2214/SB2259): requires qualified applicants for a new or renewed driver's license or civil identification card to either provide information to automatically register the applicant to vote or to clearly decline to register to vote

  • Massachusetts (HB3937): automatically registers eligible voters and enhancing safeguards against fraud

  • Maryland (SB350): universal voter registration act

  • Missouri (HB1719/HB2192):Requires the Secretary of State to establish a system for automatic voter registration

  • New Jersey (AB1944): automatically registers or updates voter registration as part of driver's license application or renewal

  • New Mexico (SB2): automatic driver’s license voter registration

  • New York (AB5972/SB2538): enacts the "voter empowerment act of New York" to streamline the process for registering to vote

  • Vermont (HB458): automatic voter registration through motor vehicle driver’s license applications

  • Washington (HB2682/SB6379): provides automatic voter registration at qualified voter registration agencies

  • West Virginia (HB4401): provides that any person with a West Virginia driver’s license or an official identification card is automatically registered to vote


Voter Pre-Registration

  • Iowa (SF2142): lowers the age at which a person may register to vote and the age at which a registered voter is eligible to vote in a primary election

  • Missouri (HB2280): establishes a procedure for voter pre-registration for persons ages 15 to 18

  • New Jersey (SB832): permits voter registration of certain persons at age 17 for voting at next election occurring on or after 18th birthday (Passed)

  • New York (A07919/S01569): authorizes persons 16 years of age or older to register to vote

  • Oklahoma (SB999): allows 16 year olds to preregister to vote

  • Virginia (HB292): preregistration for persons age 16 or older

  • Washington (HB2707/SB6340): voter preregistration of persons seventeen years of age including designating voter registration locations and voter preregistration locations

  • West Virginia (HB4233): reduces the age from eighteen years to sixteen years of persons permitted to register to vote


17 Year Old Voting in Primaries

  • Iowa (HF2145/SF2142): allows a registered voter to vote in a primary if the elector will be eighteen by the date of the general election

  • New Mexico (HB138): allows persons who are seventeen years old and who will be eighteen by the day of the general election to vote in the primary election (passed legislature and on governor's desk)
  • Utah (HB70): allows an individual who is 17 to vote in a regular primary election if the individual will be 18 by the general election (passed first committee vote unanimously)


Lowered Voting Age

  • California (ACA7): authorizes a person who is at least 16 years of age and a resident of the state to vote in a school or community college district governing board election in which that person would be qualified to vote based on residence

  • Washington DC (B21-0468): reduces the eligible voting age to 16 years of age for all elections


National Popular Vote

  • Alaska (HB348): adopts the interstate compact for NPV
  • Georgia (HB929): adopts the interstate compact for NPV
  • Missouri (HB2048/HB1959): adopts the interstate compact for NPV

  • Tennessee (HB1728/SB1657): adopts the interstate compact for NPV


Image source: SketchPort

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