The vast majority of states have registration deadlines
weeks before election day. This schedule poses problems for busy Americans who
simply forget to register or re-register after moving and find themselves
unable to vote on election day. During the 2000 presidential election
alone, nearly 3 million voters were
disenfranchised due to registration problems. Luckily, a simple
solution is available — election day registration (EDR).
Any registration problem that may arise can easily be solved by allowing the
voter to register or re-register right at the polling place.EDR also reduces the need for provisional
ballots, which are used when a voter's registration is in question. More
importantly, while provisional ballots often go uncounted, election day
registration provides certainty to citizens that their votes will count.
Election day registration also functions to increase turnout among
certain segments of the population more likely to encounter registration
problems: people who move frequently, young people, and historically
for voter turnout in states with election day registration are striking and
point to the system’s potential to renew democracy in America:
74% of eligible voters
participated in states with election day registration in 2004, compared to
only 60% in non-EDR states. Turnout was higher for both safe and
The top four states for voter
turnout in 2004 had EDR.
The biggest electoral dust-up this summer in Ohio has been the attempt to overturn Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s decision to allow voters to register and vote on the same day during a one week period from September 30th to October 6th. This resulted from an overlap between the beginning of early voting and the end of voter registration, 30 days before the election. The Ohio Republican Party, nervous that progressive groups planned to target get out the vote efforts during same day voting, sued in state court. Their claim was that the practice would violate the state requirement that a person be registered 30 days before an election in order to vote. The ACLU, in concert with a number of voting rights advocates, filed a counter-suit to enforce the Secretary of State’s decision in federal court.