Analysis

State Legislative Support Could Improve 'Motor Voter' Administration

Legislative sessions are underway in many states, and lawmakers have the opportunity to improve the accuracy and integrity of voter rolls by supporting improvements to “Motor Voter” systems. Lawmakers in Maryland were motivated to make improvements after hearing from the state's Board of Elections about failures in transmitting data from the Motor Vehicle Administration to the elections offices, which were largely due to inefficiency in the paper-based delivery systems. Policymakers in Maryland and other states have looked to the recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration to help solve these challenges.

The commission used Delaware’s “eSignature” system as the model for modernizing registration at motor vehicle agencies in its recommendations. At a forum hosted by the National Conference of State Legislatures in December 2014, Delaware’s director of the Division of Motor Vehicles told legislators from other states that they could achieve similar results by requiring cooperation between motor vehicle and election agency officials and allocating funds to update the technology for collecting and transmitting registrations.

The National Voter Registration Act, which required states to offer registration at motor vehicle agencies, applies to 44 states and the District of Columbia (excluding those states that offered same-day registration as of the date of the act). Pew’s 2014 report Measuring Motor Voter made recommendations for reviewing and evaluating how motor vehicle agencies provide voter registration services, particularly improving coordination with state elections agencies and better collection and reporting of data.

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