Friday, May 30, 2014

Red and blue states find common ground on election reform: online and same-day registration

Though partisan debates over election laws continue, it appears there may be a trend toward compromise. This year some states altered voting laws to permit people to vote online or to allow same-day registration, and once Illinois finishes making changes to its online system, more than 100 million eligible voters—about half the voters in the nation—will be in states that offer online registration, Jake Grovum writes for Stateline.

"In 2011 and 2012, there was a wave of restrictive laws that were passed," said Jonathan Brater, lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program. "We're certainly optimistic that more states are going to be moving to make voting easier." This year most of the focus has been on creating online voting opportunities.

Same-day registration has been approved in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and Hawaii may approve it soon as well. Proponents say allowing voters to register to vote on the same day increases voter turnout ("States that allow same-day registration consistently lead the nation in voter participation," says Demos, a voting-rights lobby), helps lower-income citizens, young voters and voters of color. Advocates also say it is cost-effective.

Republicans who once opposed same-day registration are getting used to the idea. In Utah, legislators mobilized a pilot project. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may even play a role in this discussion. Some states allow people to register through their insurance exchanges. (Read more)

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