After months of debate in the state capitol and weeks of worrying in county election offices, Florida Governor Rick Scott has now signed legislation that will make the Sunshine State the latest to move toward online voter registration. … Florida’s experience on OVR is just the latest example of how the policy debate has shifted on election issues in recent years. At this time four years ago, the hot topic was voter ID and all the divisive partisan heat that brings. While ID legislation lives on in some legislatures – and clearly in many legislators’ hearts – OVR’s emergence as the new trend in legislatures is quite remarkable.
Some of this is the result of the steady support of OVR proponents, but I think the biggest factor in OVR’s emergence as a subject of “vehement agreement” nationally belongs to the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. The PCEA’s report went a long way toward legitimizing OVR as a topic worthy of bipartisan agreement, in part by pointing out to would-be partisan opponents that online registration can both expand the rolls with supportive voters AND achieve many if not all of the policy goals underlying voter ID.
Indeed, we’ve reached the point where OVR’s emergence is starting to spark new battles within parties instead of between them – like in Ohio, where the Secretary of State continues to beat the drum and is assembling a Florida-style coalition of county offices in support in order to overcome apparent opposition from his fellow Republicans in the Legislature.