About 75 percent of registered voters cast a ballot in the November election last month in Arizona. But, that doesn’t take into account the number of eligible voters who are actually registered. Add in that only about two-thirds of people who could vote register and, suddenly, voter-turnout numbers can seem pretty low. One way that some states are hoping to get more people to participate in elections is by automatically registering them to vote. “Some states — Alabama, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia — have created new laws that say anyone that’s eligible that’s in our motor-vehicle database will automatically be a registered voter, if they’re not already in the system,” according to Alberto Olivas, executive director of the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics & Public Service at Arizona State University. “And then those people will get a notice, and they can decide to opt out of the system.”
Olivas said the process to register to vote now in Arizona is not as simple as it may sound, because we have a bifurcated voter-registration system. The Arizona voter-registration form doesn’t match the federal one. “It’s very confusing,” Olivas said. “The requirements themselves have been changed over time, the form itself has changed over time.”
So, the intention of changing to an automatic voter system, Olivas said, is partially to make the process easier and remove some of the barriers to voting.
“A lot of first-time voters don’t understand that they have to fill out a form in order to vote or don’t know what the process is,” he said. “And so Election Day comes, and they’re caught off-guard because they didn’t go through this process before said deadline.”