Voting registration has been increasing sharply in the 11 states that have adopted Automatic Voting Registration (AVR), according to an NPR story.
Oregon in 2016 was the first state to have automatic registration of voters whenever they interact with a state agency, such as renewing an auto registration. The states vary in implementation but basically it registers all eligible voters unless they opt out.
Many election officials like the idea of registering voters automatically at places like the motor vehicles department, because those agencies already collect a voter's personal information such as name, address, birth date and signature. Election officials say it can be more efficient and less costly than traditional voter drives, which often involve third-party groups and paper forms that can be lost, mishandled or prone to errors.
A report by the liberal-leaning Center for American Progress found that AVR systems have also tended to sign up younger voters. It noted that Oregon's program added 390,000 new voters as of August 2017 and more than half of them were under the age of 40. The center credited the state's automatic registration system with increased voter turnout in 2016.
Joining Oregon since 2016 are Democratic states of California, Colorado, New Mexico, Illinois, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, District of Columbia, and New Jersey. Georgia and Alaska are two Republican states that have implemented AVR. States that have enacted but not yet implemented are Michigan, Maryland, Washington, West Virginia, Massachusetts, and Nevada.
It is uncertain how much political impact the increase in registration has. The larger number of registered voters does give “Get Out the Vote” campaigns more potential voters to target. Increasing the number of young voters would presumably help Democrats.
States such as Georgia that had low levels of registration see the biggest increase in people who can now vote, 93.7%, according to the NPR article. The District of Columbia had the lowest increase at 9.4%.
…In the first six months after AVR was implemented in Vermont on New Year’s Day 2017, registration rates jumped 62 percent when compared to the first half of 2016.
The benefits of AVR extend beyond increasing the number of people registering. The policy keeps voter rolls more accurate by creating a constant stream of updates between registration agencies and election officials and by reducing the odds of mistakes caused by processing paper registration forms by hand. Cleaner rolls reduce errors that cause delays on Election Day and prevent eligible voters from casting regular ballots. AVR also lowers costs. For example, the transition to electronic transfer allows states to save money on printing, mailing, and data entry.
Automatic registration and modernization of voter registration for each state: