America’s outdated voter registration needs improvement, but as technology has advanced, a growing number of states are using 21st century methods.
A total of 38 states now use electronic and/or online voter registration, nearly double the total from our last study five years ago, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice. These systems boost registration rates, increase voter roll accuracy, and save money, the study found.
Electronic and online registration are two of the most popular modern methods of signing up voters, according to the report, which is based on interviews with more than 70 election officials nationwide.
Electronic registration is when a government agency — in most cases, a department of motor vehicles office — collects information and sends it digitally to election officials, instead of relying on paper forms. Online registration allows voters to submit their application over the Internet.
“No one should lose their vote because of registration problems due to outdated technology,” reads “Voter Registration in a Digital Age: 2015 Edition.” “Electronic and online registration make voting more free, fair, and accessible to all eligible citizens. Other states should embrace these systems without delay.”
Our key findings:
- Modernization boosts registration rates. In one data sample, 14 of 16 states with electronic registration saw sustained or increased registration rates at DMV offices through the 2014 election.
- Electronic and online registration increase voter roll accuracy. Election officials overwhelmingly reported that modernization made their systems more accurate because staff no longer need to interpret illegible handwriting or manually enter voter information, thus reducing the chances for errors.
- Modernized voter registration systems save money. Of the 29 states that reported tracking cost savings, all said electronic and online registration reduces costs. Washington State, for example, saves 25 cents with each online registration.