Pro Bono News

Washington Passes Exciting Reforms to Modernize and Expand Voter Registration

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Washington Passes Exciting Reforms to Modernize and Expand Voter Registration

"The Washington state legislature passed its third voter registration modernization law in just eight days when it approved automatic voter registration (AVR) last night. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign that bill, along with legislation approving Election Day registration and pre-registration, positioning the state to become the first to adopt AVR this year and the 10th to do so overall. By passing these reforms as part of its Access to Democracy legislative package, Washington sets a precedent for other states looking to overhaul their elections systems.

Right now, only 15 states offer pre-registration — allowing all 16- or 17-year-olds to register to vote even if they won’t turn 18 by the next election — and just 14 allow for Election Day registration. There is clearly room for improvement and therefore plenty of legislative opportunity. Forty-two state legislatures are now in session, and lawmakers should build on nationwide momentum from the last few years to work toward passing comprehensive election reform in their states. Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey may join Washington in passing AVR in 2018, and 18 other states are currently considering AVR bills. In addition, at least 11 states have introduced Election Day registration bills and four have introduced pre-registration.

Automatic registration has already proven successful in Oregon, the first state to adopt the policy and, not coincidentally, the state with the largest increase in voter turnout between the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections. The state added 225,000 eligible new voters to the rolls in time for the election, and nearly 100,000 of them cast ballots..."

Continue reading