Illinois this week became the 10th state to pass automatic voter registration. Good. More states should follow suit. There are few election reforms that are as straightforward to implement, and provide so much benefit to the electoral process.
Under the Illinois law, whenever someone interacts with the DMV or other state agency, they are registered to vote. If they don’t want to be registered, they can opt out. But there is no action they have to take to be registered.
Not only does this increase the number of registered voters, but it helps to clean up the voter rolls, correct mistakes, and achieve many of the goals that the Voter Suppression…sorry, Voter Fraud Commission is supposedly focused on.
Past experience shows how effective this reform is. From the NYT article:
Meanwhile in Oregon, which in 2015 became the first state to pass automatic voter registration, more than 272,000 people were registered in the law’s first year, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress. Of these, 116,000 were found to be unlikely to have registered otherwise, and 40,000 of that group voted in 2016, helping Oregon achieve the nation’s largest turnout increase from 2012 — 4.1 points, to 68.3 percent. Contrary to Republican fears, that increase did not equal Democratic gains. Democrats lost seats in the State Legislature, even though the new voters were more racially diversethan previously registered voters.
In other words, increasing voter participation should be a bipartisan project.