Legislation proposed by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill would allow voters to automatically register at the state Department of Motor Vehicles. Merrill, a Democrat, said the initiative could add over 400,000 people to the voter registration rolls by making the process “easy and accessible.” Registering voters or keeping people’s registration information up to date when they move is a “point of frustration,” she said Monday. “We have the technology to run an easier, more efficient and cost-effective system.” she said. Under the plan, a person would be automatically registered to vote after conducting business at the DMV, unless they decide to opt out. Information necessary for voter registration, such as age and place of residence, would be collected from drivers’ licenses. The state would determine if the person is eligible to vote. If so, they would be automatically registered as a non-affiliated voter. The person could still register with a political party, but would not be able to do so at the DMV.
This process shifts the burden of voter registration to the state and away from municipalities, and would add to other initiatives, such as same day and online registration, that have been started in recent years, Merrill said. Currently, voters can register online, as long as they have a signature on file with the DMV. Online registration has been used 80,000 times since the program was enacted in 2014, according to Merrill.
About one-third of eligible voters in the state are not registered. “This is a new and exciting program that breaks fresh ground,” Merrill said.
Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut, a lobbying group focusing on state government operations, said the legislation is a step toward the “modernization of our registration system.”