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Universal Voter Registration: A New Initiative to Increase Electoral Participation and Reduce Voter Suppression

The elections of 2008 served as a critical test of the nation's election systems.  With changes in voting machines and procedures, coupled with expectations of record voter turnout, election administrators held their breath and hoped their system wouldn't fail. 

While the system didn't fail, voters faced serious obstacles in exercising their right to vote.  Voter registration ended up being the problem that affected the largest number of voters.  Even before the first votes were cast, it was apparent that our voter registration systems were woefully inadequate.  While in other nations 90% or more of the eligible voter population is registered to vote, in the United States less than 75% of eligible voters are registered.

We can do better.

Overview

Allowing for internet-based voter registration is a basic reform that is especially effective at registering young voters.  It also sets up a process that can be easily used by public agencies to register voters under NVRA.  Internet registration is already being used in Arizona and Washington. In order to ensure that registering voters online doesn't open up opportunities for fraud, it is available only to people who have signatures on file with a state agency such as the department of motor vehicles.

Edward B. Foley — Online Registration is the Answer
Washington Online Registration Act