It’s Civics 101 that healthy democracies depend on informed and engaged citizens. In Florida, however, only a little more than half of residents eligible to vote are actually registered, and just 31 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in November’s election. When so many Floridians won’t even participate in the electoral process, politicians have less reason to listen to the public. But there’s a way to boost voter registration, while making the process more accurate and secure, and also saving money for taxpayers: Allow Floridians to submit their registration applications online. Considering everything else Floridians can do online, including banking and shopping, it’s hard to believe this convenient option for registration still isn’t available. The association that represents Florida’s 67 county elections supervisors has made online voter registration application its No. 1 priority for the upcoming legislative session. The group’s president, Supervisor Jerry Holland of Duval County, calls it “a common-sense approach for 21st-century voters.”
Currently, Floridians can go online to print out applications, but must mail or hand deliver them to supervisors’ offices after completing and signing them. Elections employees must then re-enter the information — a labor-intensive process that ties up resources and often introduces errors. And the volume of applications spikes in the weeks leading up to elections, just when employees are busiest.
Under the modernized registration process favored by the supervisors, applicants would enter their information online, and would include their drivers license numbers or Florida identification numbers. Those numbers would be used to verify their identities by matching them with records maintained by the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. Voters also could use this process to update their registration information, vastly simplifying the challenge for supervisors of maintaining accurate rolls.