An interesting report was just released by Senior Fellow Vanessa Williamson from the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.. From the report:
The United States has comparatively low voter turnout. One barrier to voting is the registration process. The Pew Research Center estimated that in 2014, 21.4 percent of the voting eligible population in the U.S. was not registered to vote. Unfortunately, the states are not moving consistently toward policies that would increase the registered population. While some states have eased the voter registration process, or moved toward automatic voter registration, others have adopted policies that will likely remove a substantial number of eligible registered voters from the rolls.
There are good reasons to believe voter registration at tax time would be an efficient and effective approach to increasing voter registration. More than 150 million households file their income taxes every year. The slight administrative inconvenience of voter registration is marginal in the context of tax preparation; tax filers are already completing many more complicated forms for a government agency. Associating tax time and voter registration would provide a regular reminder for voters to keep their voter registration up to date. The annual reminder could help counteract voter roll purges, and would complement automatic voter registration systems, especially for those citizens who move frequently or do not drive.
Given the long American tradition of associating taxation with representation, there may well be additional benefits to linking tax filing with voter registration. Taxpaying reminds all filers of the significance of public policy for their daily lives and livelihoods, which might increase interest in political participation. My research has shown that Americans see taxpaying as a civic responsibility, and that when Americans pay for government, they believe they should have a right to help decide how the money is spent.
Read the full article at the Brookings. As a bonus, here is recent Brookings video of the report’s author discussing the subject at length: