America's hearing two different stories, and each has a point.
NOT ENOUGH VOTING...
The US is the only G20 country that puts the burden of registration on citizens. The result: 25% of us aren't registered.
It's hard to get registered: the burden's on us; we face increasingly strict ID demands, and even "free" ID costs $#75-175 in travel, fees and lost work time. Handwriting, disorganization, or sabotage can keep a form from being processed.
It's hard to stay registered, too: voters who move within state need to re-register, and millions of voters are thrown off the rolls when states use wildly inaccurate methods, like CrossCheck or infrequent voter purges, to "update" the rolls.
How do we ensure that ALL eligible voters have a chance to vote, and secure our voter rolls from hacking that might remove them?
OR TOO MUCH?
1 in 8 voter records is outdated. Most voters who move and reregister don't tell their old Board of Elections that they're gone, which causes duplicate registration.
The Board of Elections can't easily check to ensure that voters who have moved, or are deceased, are removed from the rolls.
Paper registrations, due to mistakes or voter confusion, can result in non-citizens being registered. Double-voting is rare - the cost (prosecution) is too high, vs. a very low return (one extra vote). Still: why not eliminate this possibility, and get our voter rolls right?
How do we create truly accurate voter rolls, ensuring that ONLY eligible voters are on the rolls?
AUTOMATIC VOTER REGISTRATION
The common-sense solution that puts ALL eligible voters
on the rolls, and ONLY eligible voters on the rolls.
ACCURACY: RMV and MassHealth more rigorously check if someone's a citizen, their standard of documentary proof is higher; and citizens update their information there, more often. So the contact data these agencies have is far more accurate. When they transfer it to the Central Registry, our voter rolls become far more accurate.
SECURITY: AVR secures the rolls by frequently checking them against other databases. PARTICIPATION: AVR would register almost 680,000 people - almost all our eligible voters.
CONVENIENCE: Voters who do nothing are registered, and stay registered if they move within state. Voters are asked if they want to decline to register, and given 2 more alerts that if they do nothing, they'll be registered. AVR changes the default from opt-in to opt-out.
STREAMLINING: The State no longer collects information duplicate times, and clerks no longer face a mountain of paper registrations in the months before an election.
AVR is funded: MA still has $43M from the HAVA act which can't be used for any other purpose.
Our MA bill also joins us to ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center. ERIC is a 20-member interstate comparison program developed by the non-partisan foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust, that both anonymizes and encrypts data, to create a far higher degree of accuracy than CrossCheck, the program it replaces. To learn more, visit ERIC.