A wave of states in recent years have moved to allow residents to register online and the pace is quickening today as many more are debating the issue – a development that is swelling voting rolls, saving taxpayers’ money, and providing a welcome demilitarized zone in the raging partisan wars over ballot access. “It’s red states, blue states, small states, big states,” said Jennie Bowser, an elections expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures. “It’s happening across the board.” Only two states, Arizona and Washington, had online voter registration when Barack Obama won the presidency. Four years later, 13 states had systems up and running by the time Obama won reelection. Now, at least fourteen additional states are considering legislation to enact online registration. (Virginia and New Mexico have already sent bills to the governor.)
For advocates, online voter registration is a win-win-win, simplifying the process for voters, making records more accurate and reliable for election officials, and saving money for cash-strapped state governments.
“The evidence about this is just so clear,” said David Becker, the director of election projects for the Pew Charitable Trusts. “If you can create a tool that harnesses electronics to allow voters greater convenience and creates greater security for an election and saves the voters of thousands of dollars in the process, why wouldn’t you?”
In Ohio, Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, spent last fall under heavy fire from Democrats for curtailing some early-voting hours. Now, he’s working on a bipartisan bill to introduce online voter registration.
“All of these things are things both Democrats and Republicans value when it comes to elections,” Husted told POLITICO, mentioning convenience, cost savings and security. “So it should be bipartisan.”