Washington, D.C. — On March 7, Washington’s state legislature approved a measure authorizing a statewide automatic voter registration (AVR) system. If signed by Gov. Jay Inslee (D), Washington will become the tenth state, plus the District of Columbia, to adopt AVR, joining the ranks of Oregon, Alaska, Illinois, and Rhode Island. With AVR, Washington is poised to increase voter registration and participation by using information the state already receives to create more complete and accurate voter registration lists. AVR is just one of the many pro-voter reforms Washington has passed since the start of 2018. In addition to AVR, Washington passed Election Day registration, pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, the Washington Voting Rights Act, and an election security package.
Liz Kennedy, senior director of democracy and government reform at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
By passing AVR, along with other pro-voter policies such as Election Day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, Washington has emerged as a leader in helping to increase voter access and participation. AVR streamlines the voter registration process by using already available information to register eligible citizens through a secure, efficient process that improves the integrity of elections. Research shows that those who are registered are more likely to turn out for elections than those that are not. CAP’s original research on Oregon’s experience with AVR has shown that AVR would lead to millions more voters if adopted by all 50 states. A well-designed AVR program can open up the democratic process to traditionally underrepresented groups, including young people, rural Americans, and communities of color.
Our democracy works best when all eligible people can have their voices heard at the ballot box so that government is responsive and accountable to voters. Encouragingly, Washington has also passed legislation to protect voting rights for all its residents, and to improve the security of its elections addressing some of the vulnerabilities CAP had identified in our recent report assessing election security preparedness in all 50 states. We commend Washington for taking major strides this year to fulfill the promise of American democracy.
- Who Votes with Automatic Voter Registration? Impact Analysis of Oregon’s First-in-the-Nation Program, by Rob Griffin, Paul Gronke, Tova Wang, and Liz Kennedy
- Close Elections, Missing Voices, and Automatic Voter Registration Projected Impact in 50 States, by Liz Kennedy and Rob Griffin
- Oregon’s Success Shows Way Forward for Automatic Voter Registration, by Liz Kennedy
- Election Security in all 50 States: Defending America’s Elections, by Danielle Root, Liz Kennedy, Michael Sozan and Jerry Parshall
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