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Cost Savings Win Bipartisan Support for Online Voter Registration

 

During a press conference on Monday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted unveiled a wish list of election reforms, one of which was an online voter registration system. Husted, a Republican, noted that permitting Ohioans to register to vote or update their registrations online would reduce the number of provisional ballots cast at the polls, which can prove costly and time-consuming to process. Indeed, records show that voters who had moved but had not updated their addresses were responsible for about half of the 105,000 provisional ballots cast during the midterm elections.

Though the enactment of online registration is critical to helping reduce the barriers to voting, it can also save states sorely needed funds, and has won support from both sides of the aisle. In recent years, states as diverse as California, Louisiana, Indiana, and Colorado have implemented the reform to great success -- and resulted in significant savings. In Maricopa County, Arizona, for example, processing an online voter registration now costs the state 3 cents, compared to 83 cents for a paper transaction. The popularity of online registration has helped reduce printing costs by 75% in the county. Washington state has similarly experienced a reduction in costs at both the state and county level. The Secretary of State’s office reports saving 25 cents per online application, while counties have saved anywhere from 50 cents to $2 with each application.

Progressives and conservatives alike can also agree on the fact that online registration increases the accuracy of voter records. Information entered into an online form has to match with the state motor vehicle agency’s database records, ensuring that registrations will not have inaccurate or missing names, birth dates, and other vital information. Online voter registration also ensures that information goes directly to election officials; reducing the number of people who have to handle a registration application reduces the chances for human and data entry errors.

Bills to implement online registration systems or further expand upon existing systems have already been introduced in at least 16 different states this year.

Full Resources from this Article

Cost Savings Win Bipartisan Support for Online Voter Registration

Columbus Dispatch - "Secretary of State Husted wants online registration in election reforms"
The Pew Center on the States - Online Voter Registration: Case Studies in Arizona and Washington
Project Vote - Online Registration Advocacy Toolkit

This article is part of PSN's email newsletter, The Stateside Dispatch.
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