Registering to vote should be easy, accurate and automatic.

Every American has the fundamental right to vote, and have that vote counted. And in a day and age when we can use computers and smartphones to do everything from paying our utility bills to reading the days headlines, there is no reason registering to vote shouldn’t be easy, accurate and automatic. But advances in technology have not made it into most of our election systems, and nearly half our country is still using pen and paper to register to vote.

Our outdated, inaccurate, systems often create real barriers to voter registration. An estimated one in eight voter records is either invalid or has serious issues, many due to human errors from processing paper applications. And it’s estimated that, in 2012, more than a million eligible voters were turned away at the polls because of registration issues.

We can do better.

We’ve figured out how to let people pay their taxes using 21st century tools. Shouldn’t we be able to do the same with our voting systems? We’re working to modernize the vote by starting at the point of entry—registration—and making sure more Americans are registered to vote automatically.

Our idea is simple—anytime you interact with a government agency your voter registration is updated electronically and automatically.

  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S EASY</h4><p>When you go to the DMV or another government agency and update your information, it automatically updates your voter registration.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S AUTOMATIC</h4><p>Under automatic voter registration, the default assumption is that you are registered to vote, instead of pre-supposing that you are not. Under this system, eligible voters are automatically added to the rolls.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S MORE ACCURATE</h4><p>An estimated one in eight voter records on the rolls is either invalid or has serious issues, many due to human errors from processing paper applications.</p>
  • <h5>Benefits Of Automatic Voter Registration</h5><h4>IT'S MORE DEMOCRATIC</h4><p>Automatic voter registration could add millions of eligible voters to the rolls, bringing more voices into our elections and ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be heard. </p>
Gaining Momentum

We’re working to pass automatic voter registration in Massachusetts. Recently, we’ve won similar laws in Illinois, New Jersey, Washington, Maryland, Oregon and Colorado. By 2019, more than 100 million Americans, from Georgia to Alaska, could live in states with automatic voter registration. And we’ll keep pushing for change until automatic voter registration is implemented from coast to coast.

U.S. PIRG has a long history of working on the ground to increase voter participation. Through the New Voters Project and Community Voters Project, we have accumulated a vast wealth of knowledge about what processes work and what it takes to get citizens registered—as well as the local relationships we need to organize key stakeholders to advocate for modernization. Getting more people registered to vote and moving our country toward universal registration are among the best strategies for increasing voter participation.

Now is the time to act. We need to work for and win commonsense reforms to modernize our elections and strengthen our democracy.

Illinois PIRG State Director Abe Scarr announces the passage of an automatic voter registration bill in 2017.
Office of the Cook County Clerk
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Top photo: Alexandru Nika via Shutterstock.com