Washington, D.C. — One year out from the 2018 midterm elections, a new analysis says the United States would see a dramatic rise in new potential voters if every state adopted a system that automatically registers every eligible person to vote.
The report from the Center for American Progress projects that voter rolls would grow by 22 million people if all 50 states adopted an automatic voter registration (AVR) system similar to one begun by Oregon in 2016. This includes approximately 9.5 million people who are unlikely to become registered without AVR.
The report compares these massive gains in voter registration to the relatively small margins of victory in the ten closest races for the Virginia House of Delegates earlier this month as well as the 25 closest races in the 2016 congressional elections. In all 25 of these close congressional races, the projected number of new voters dwarfs the margin of victory of the winning candidate. The ratios range from almost twice as many to 24 times as many people newly registered to vote compared to the number of votes that determined the election.
“Democracy works best when all voices are heard. AVR is a commonsense way to modernize the voter registration process, keep voter rolls up-to-date and secure, and remove obstacles to voter participation,” said Liz Kennedy, director of Democracy and Government Reform at CAP and co-author of the report. “The current system in most states, which puts the burden on individuals to get and stay registered, places an unnecessary barrier to voter participation. AVR is poised to bring millions of citizens into America’s political process.”
Oregon saw more than 272,000 new people added to the state’s voter rolls in the first year of the program—with 98,000 of them voting in the 2016 election—and an additional 570,000 Oregonians had their addresses updated on their voter registrations through AVR. This summer, Illinois became the tenth state to adopt AVR.
Read the report: “Close Elections, Missing Voices, and Automatic Voter Registration Projected Impact in 50 States” by Liz Kennedy and Rob Griffin.
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