Every District resident over the age of 18 who gets a driver’s license would become automatically registered to vote under a spending plan the D.C. Council is expected to give final approval to later this month. The spending plan, which advanced easily on Tuesday, would mean the District would join eight states with automatic voter registration. Many Democratic lawmakers embraced automatic registration as a way to counter restrictive voter ID laws supported by some conservatives. Government groups have also pressed states to link voter registration with other government databases, saying doing so would help clean up inaccurate state voter rolls. Lawmakers in 32 states have introduced measures in the last year to automatically register drivers to vote.
Just this week, the Illinois House voted 115 to 0 in support of a law that will automatically register voters when they visit various state agencies.
“These kind of opt-out or automatic voter registration systems are just good 21st century government,” said Justin Levitt, who worked as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department under former president Barack Obama. “I would expect more of them as more states realize that the inefficient means of voter registration are actually pretty expensive.”