On July 14th, Congressional lawmakers introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016, which would ensure that whenever a citizen interacts with the government, they are automatically registered to vote unless they choose to decline. The bill is being led by Representative Robert Brady (D-PA).
While support at the Congressional level has been primarily among Democrats, automatic registration is a bi-partisan reform at its very core. Five states have adopted automatic voter registration through their department of motor vehicles, and bipartisan support was key in its passage--especially in places like Oregon and West Virginia.
Automatically registering voters goes a long way in achieving free, fair, and accessible elections for all. Our democracy is at its best when more eligible voters participate, and this reform has the potential to level the playing field for low-income voters, young voters, and voters of color, who are disproportionately disenfranchised at the polls. In addition, such legislation would help ensure that states are keeping clean and accurate voter roles so as to protect the integrity of elections.
FairVote is proud to be a long-time supporter of universal ("automatic") voter registration, and was the first national voting organization to originally support the reform. The United States is one of only a few democracies in the world where the government does not take responsibility for registering voters. It is time that America joined the international community and establish this best practice.