Automatic voter registration, a practice also referred to as motor voter laws, has now been proven to boost turnout and can be a big tool in the election reformer’s kit. According to an article by Kenneth Lovett from Daily News, advocates in New York are pushing for the system to be included in an expected package of election reforms coming up this year.
A new group has formed to push voting reform in New York. Called AVR NOW, the group will focus on passage of state legislation creating automatic voter registration. AVR NOW is part of a progressive think tank, Data for Progress, and will be headed by that group’s co-founder, Sean McElwee.
New York’s voting laws have long been considered Byzantine and the state has among the lowest turnout rates in the country. “This session in Albany, we have a simple choice: either keep a broken status quo and tolerate chronically dysfunctional elections or move into the future by ensuring our voting laws work for everyone,” McElwee said.
See the full article here. Automatic voter registration has been implemented very successfully in other states recently in particular in Vermont where last month, a report was released showing there are 481,111 registered citizens in the state, comprising 92.5 percent voter registration of eligible voters! New York has about 66 percent of its eligible population registered to vote.
The announcement released by Vermont’s Secretary of State office at the time pointed out that the high number of registered voters was the direct result of the automatic voter registration system that launched in January 2017. Vermont’s system permits voters to register automatically when they update their driver’s licenses or any form of identification at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Vermont’s motor voter law clearly succeeding in making it easier and faster for voters to register.
Between January 1st to October 11th 2018, a total number of about 16,000 of the 30,400 voter registrations had been completed through the motor voter law and 7,000 registrations were completed through the Secretary of State’s new registration online system.
Amazingly, it is predicted that the impact of Vermont’s motor voter law has only begun to be felt. The state expects an increase the number of voters registered in the next few years giving that driver’s licenses are renewed after every 4 years. Secretary of State Jim Condos recently pointed this out, saying, “It takes us a full cycle before we get everybody; the goal is we’re going to get as many eligible Vermonters as possible to be registered to vote.”
One warning though: In order to be able to vote in Vermont, you have to take the state’s “Voter’s Oath”, also known as the “Freeman’s Oath”, found in the Vermont Constitution in Chapter II, Section 42. Brace yourself good citizens, here is the oath in its entirety:
“You solemnly swear or affirm that whenever you give your vote or suffrage, touching any matter that concerns the State of Vermont, you will do it so as in your conscience you shall judge will most conduce to the best good of the same, as established by the Constitution, without fear or favor of any person.”