Rhode Island has become a leader in improving our democracy. Every American has the fundamental right to vote, and have that vote counted. And in a day and age when we can use computers and smartphones to do everything from paying our utility bills to reading the day's headlines, there is no reason registering to vote shouldn’t be easy, accurate and automatic. And our automatic voter registration program is a shining example for the rest of the country.
Now in Rhode Island, any time you interact with the DMV you can choose to “opt-in” to register to vote automatically. Automatic voter registration is a vital step toward a more fair and equal democracy, but most states don’t have this program. RIPIRG and our national network want to make automatic voter registration a reality in every state. Across the country, outdated, inaccurate systems often create real barriers to voter registration. An estimated 1 in 8 national voter records is either invalid or has serious issues, many due to human errors from processing paper applications. And it’s estimated that, in 2012, more than 1 million eligible voters were turned away at the polls because of registration issues.
Our country can do better.
We’ve figured out how to let people pay their taxes using 21st-century tools. Shouldn’t we be able to do the same with our voting systems? To modernize the vote we should start at the point of entry — registration — and make sure more people are registered to vote automatically.
Our idea is simple — anytime you interact with a government agency your voter registration is updated electronically and automatically.