This month, we highlight Washington’s Secretary of State Sam Reed.
While it is true, Secretaries of State don’t have legislative power, it is the shrewd officials that use their influence to pilot new reforms.
In 2006, Secretary Reed requested the Washington Legislature pass a law authorizing online voter registration to both increase and simplify voter registrations. The Legislature passed the law in 2007 and authorized implementation after January 1, 2008.
Washington is the second state in the country to allow online voter registration under a measure passed by its legislature.
The bill was based on Arizona's Internet registration system, EZ Voter, which allows Arizonans to register online at a secure site maintained by ServiceArizona.
Arizona implemented online voter registration in 2003. That year, 25 percent of all voter registration transactions were completed online. In 2007, that number had increased to 72 percent.
According to the Arizona Secretary of State website, the state election bureau reports the following successes with online voter registration:
· Seventy percent of all registrations in Arizona are now being done online
· 250,000 registrations were processed in 2004
· 400,000 registrations were processed in 2006
This measure has increased Arizona’s voter registration by ten percent. FairVote has not studied the issue, but believes online registration and other measures to engage to increase participation should be explored.
Secretary Reed studied the program's success in Arizona, pitched the idea to local legislators, and they passed the bill. Today in Washington, citizens can bank, buy music and register to vote online.