According to the Election Performance Index, when it comes to several voting statistics, Alabama ranks in the bottom 10. In an effort to increase participation and reduce barriers to vote, 22 states and Washington, D.C. have implemented automatic voter registration. All states benefited from an increase in voter turnout and a decrease in costs to registration agencies.
HB 257 would similarly streamline voter registration in Alabama. After passage, eligible individuals would be automatically registered to vote, unless they choose to opt-out, through information they routinely share with government agencies (the information provided on a person’s driver’s license application, for example). After passage, all eligible Alabamians would be ready to vote without extra steps or wait times. More specifically, here’s why we support this bill:
- Automatic voter registration boosts civic engagement. One in four eligible citizens is not registered to vote. HB 257 would increase participation in both local and national elections by removing barriers to vote. For example, automatic voter registration in Georgia increased voter turnout 11.4 percent from 2014 to 2018.
- Alabama could save roughly $2 million a year by automatically registering all voters. Registering one new voter costs $7.67. However, using data that agencies already have to register a voter would cost only 3 cents. Compared to the tedious process that includes printing, mailing, and recording each individual’s data by hand, automatic voter registration would be less costly and time-consuming for agencies.
- Automatic voter registration would guarantee that citizens who intend to vote have the capability to do so. One in eight voter registration forms are invalid or significantly inaccurate, which disqualifies thousands annually. An automatic system would reduce errors during the registration process, including improper registrations.
- The shift to automatic voter registration ensures election security. It would eliminate the manual entry of registrants, which removes the possibility of duplicate and outdated records. Electronic systems are also less vulnerable to manipulation and abuse because they are more accurate, can be limited to authorized users, monitored for anomalies, and designed to withstand breaches. Increased security leads to stronger trust in our elections, which is crucial to democracy.