After nearly five years of partisan feuds over state elections laws, there are growing signs that lawmakers are finding common ground on both sides of the aisle, in blue and red states alike. During legislative sessions this year, several states enacted changes designed to ease the voting process, such as online voter registration and same-day registration. When Illinois finishes the rollout of its online system this summer as expected, more than 100 million eligible voters will live in states offering online registration — about half of the nation’s eligible voters, according to the United States Elections Project. The raft of new measures comes on the heels of a bipartisan presidential elections commission report released in January that encouraged states to “transcend partisan divisions and view election administration as public administration that must heed the expressed interests and expectations of voters.”
Restrictive measures, such as voter ID requirements, spiked following the 2010 elections, spurred in part by Republican takeovers around the country. Some of these efforts continue. In response, many Democrats pushed laws in 2013 to ease voting in states they controlled.
“In 2011 and 2012, there was a wave of restrictive laws that were passed,” said Jonathan Brater, lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. “Compared to that period, this is more of a mixed bag, and we’re certainly optimistic that more states are going to be moving to make voting easier.”
The momentum and partisan cooperation this year have been most evident in online registration efforts. “That is the story this year,” said Wendy Underhill, who follows elections for the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than half the states now have some form of online voter registration or have approved legislation to launch a system, according to an NCSL tally.
Full Article: After Voter ID, More States Look to Make Voting Easier.