Registering to vote in Massachusetts could become an automatic process for people who renew their driver’s license or otherwise interact with a state agency under legislation supporters pitched Thursday as a way to boost participation in the democratic process. The Joint Committee on Election Laws heard testimony Thursday on bills that would create an automatic voter registration system for eligible citizens. Instead of the current process where people wishing to vote must first fill out a registration form with their local elections officers, the system would call on state agencies to transmit a person’s name, age, residence and citizenship information to municipal boards of registrars within five days of collecting it.
“I think there is a huge hunger in this state for more access to voting, and so automatic voter registration we think is the next step,” MASSPIRG executive director Janet Domenitz said, pointing to the more than 1 million people who last fall participated in the state’s first ever early-voting period ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
Nancy Brumback of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts said automatic registration could make the system more accurate and efficient by reducing the number of last-minute registrations that may not get processed in time before an election, cutting down on data-entry errors and ensuring that voter addresses are up-to-date.