Analysis

2 More States Offer Online Voter Registration

Hawaii and Pennsylvania are the two most recent states to launch online voter registration systems, bringing the number of states that allow citizens to register to vote and update their registration entirely online to 23 plus the District of Columbia. Online registration services are convenient and efficient for voters, require less time and fewer resources, and result in fewer inaccuracies than processing handwritten paper forms.

To register to vote or update registration information via Hawaii’s website, each eligible voter must provide a driver’s license or state identification number and a complete Social Security number. This step verifies an applicant’s identity and allows the system to use the voter’s electronic signature from the motor vehicle database. An eligible voter without a state driver’s license or ID can still complete an application online, then print, sign, and mail the paper form to the elections office or register through other means. The online portal also lets voters check their registration status and request absentee ballots. Legislation passed in 2012 was necessary to authorize Hawaii’s online registration system and to allocate funds for its development.

Pennsylvania’s new online registration system is available in English and Spanish and is adaptive to mobile devices so the user can register easily via a tablet or smartphone. Like Hawaii’s website, Pennsylvania’s online registration portal links to the state’s Department of Transportation (PennDOT) to capture the applicant’s electronic signature. An eligible voter without a PennDOT number can also fill out the registration form online and then print, sign, and send it to the county election official. Users of the online portal will receive a confirmation number to track their application status. Secretary of State Pedro Cortés noted that online voter registration would provide benefits to voters and to local election officials responsible for processing registrations.

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