Voices & Choices

How to increase voter turnout? New report suggests automatic registration, ranked choice voting

How to increase voter turnout? New report suggests automatic registration, ranked choice voting

The 2018 midterm elections saw the highest turnout in a midterm election since 1914, according to a new report by Nonprofit Vote.

The Nonprofit Vote report acknowledged that the opportunity to repudiate or affirm the president’s policies surely played a substantial role in spurring the high turnout rate, while simultaneously suggesting an additional reason: increased implementation of voter-friendly policies that allowed citizens to partake in the democratic process.

Nonprofit Vote points to Automatic Voter Registration (AVR), same-day registration, and vote-by-mail policies as significant enablers, if not motivators, of the high turnout. Their report observes that, of the 10 states with the highest turnout, nine had implementation vote-by-mail policy, same-day registration, or a combination of the two. In contrast, of the 10 states with the lowest turnout, eight had restricted voter registration to four weeks before the election.

Additionally, the report extols the values of ranked choice voting (RCV), noting that, in Maine (the first state to use RCV in state and federal elections), RCV “met every test—political, legal, and voter acceptance.”

The report specifically lists the myriad benefits of RCV, noting that RCV ensures a majority winner, removes the spoiler effect, incentivizes civility, and usually leads to increased turnout, among other positive effects. Indeed, FairVote has found that 2018 mayoral races that utilized ranked choice voting saw record turnout.

It is heartening to see voting reforms like RCV, AVR, same-day registration and vote-by-mail empower American citizens.  We should continue to push our elected officials to adopt these policies in hopes of fostering renewed faith in the American political process.

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