Since July, California, Maryland, New York, and South Carolina have introduced online voter registration, bringing to 13 the number of states that currently offer this service. Increased use of online registration and new technologies adopted in these states has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of registered voters.
With assistance from Pew's Election Initiatives Project, seven states have partnered to launch the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a program that uses the latest technology to better maintain voter records, save money, and streamline processes. With approximately one in eight voter registrations in the United States out-of-date or no longer accurate, the program allows participating states—currently Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Washington—to improve their ability to maintain clean voter lists and most efficiently manage their voter registration system.
As part of the ERIC partnership, states can more easily reach eligible but unregistered voters by encouraging them to go online to register to vote weeks, rather than days, before registration deadlines. They can also encourage registered voters to use the online system to update their information when necessary, improving accuracy and saving taxpayer dollars.
“With voter registration deadlines looming in twenty-one states between now and the election, it's crucial that voters use these new tools, like online registration, to get registered or update their information,” said David Becker, director of Election Initiatives.
In Nevada, for instance, new registrations jumped following an initiative that began on September 17 as part of their participation in the ERIC partnership. To promote online registration, the state sent mailings to hundreds of thousands of eligible but not yet registered voters, and ran television and radio ads and promotional outreach for National Voter Registration Day. As of October 2, 15,000 new online registrations had been processed, averaging approximately 1,000 per day. Then in the last four days before the state's October 6 deadline to register online, another nearly 15,000 new online registrations were processed along with more than 9,000 voters who updated their registration information. The day of the deadline saw the system's highest single-day usage with nearly 4,800 new registrants signing up online.
Colorado, also a founding member of ERIC, sent out mailings to eligible but unregistered voters in late August. Of those who've received the mailing, 30,000 voters have registered online, according to the Secretary of State's office.
Maryland's online registration system debuted in July and, in a little more than two months, saw more than 8,000 new registrants and 14,000 people update their information. Maryland's registration deadline is October 16.
“States participating in ERIC should expect to see greater efficiencies and reduced costs,” said Becker.
Other states have seen significant results from online voter registration, as well.
California rolled out its system in mid-September, and more than 220,000 people used the system in its first two weeks. California's voter registration deadline is October 22.
New York launched online registration in August, and as of early October more than 9,500 new registrants used the system and another 14,000 updated their information. New York's deadline is October 12.
South Carolina's online voter registration system did not debut until October 2, four days before the state's October 6 registration deadline. In less than 24 hours after the system went live, more than 3,000 new voters submitted applications. Approximately 17,000 new registrants used the system in the five days it was available and an additional 8,000 updated their information.
The thirteen states with online voter registration systems are Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington.
Overall, 20 states have voter registration deadlines that have passed as of October 9. Twenty-one states have deadlines between October 10 and November 3. Eight states and the District of Columbia allow Election Day registration, and North Dakota does not require voters to register.
The Pew Center on the States is a division of The Pew Charitable Trusts that identifies and advances effective solutions to critical issues facing states. Pew is a nonprofit organization that applies a rigorous, analytical approach to improve public policy, inform the public and stimulate civic life. More information is available at http://www.pewstates.org/voterreg.