Political brawls over voting laws have consumed states across the country for the past decade. But below the surface, a movement to automatically register eligible voters to vote is rapidly gaining traction. By next year, more than a quarter of all Americans will live in states where they no longer have to fill out registration forms in order to cast a ballot. The latest state to implement automatic voter registration is California, which had been scheduled to start on Monday although it’s been delayed while officials conduct more testing. Everyone who meets the legal requirements to vote in California will be automatically registered when they update their driver’s license or state ID at the Department of Motor Vehicles, a move that election officials expect will help move some of the more than 6 million eligible, but unregistered, residents onto the state’s voter rolls.
While California is the largest and most populous state in the country to adopt automatic voter registration (known as AVR), a dozen states and the District of Columbia have also taken it up since 2015, according to a review by the Brennan Centerfor Justice at New York University’s law school. Just this month, lawmakers in Maryland and New Jersey approved AVR and Massachusetts could soon join the list with more than a dozen additional states considering the shift. In Nevada, the issue is on the ballot in this November’s election.
… The shift to automatic voter registration could bring millions of new voters into the political process. In California, as many as 2 million additional voters could be registered ahead of the 2020 election, according to estimates by Paul Mitchell, the vice president of the bipartisan data vendor Political Data. The latest registration report in California shows there are 18,980,481 registered voters in the state as of early January.