This issue brief from The Brennan Center contains sample legislative language for the main components of a fully modernized voter registration system: (1) one-stop automated registration of eligible citizens who interact with other government agencies; (2) permanent voter registration, so that once a voter is registered, she stays registered regardless of whether she moves within the state; (3) an online interface to check and update registration information; and (4) fail-safe provisions so that voters can correct errors or omissions on the voter rolls up through Election Day.
Minnesota legislators passed a landmark voter registration modernization bill
recently that would, absent a veto, have registered or updated the
registration of voters automatically when they applied for a driver's
license, learner's permit or ID card. It would also use information in
motor vehicle and corrections databases to verify and maintain voter
rolls. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Steve Simon and Sen. John Marty,
would have made Minnesota the first state in the nation to proactively
register voters, and made it among the most advanced in maintaining
clean, accurate voter rolls. The bill was designed to build on the
state's already first-in-the-nation portability bill, which requires automatic updates to voter registrations based on changes of address.
However, Governor Pawlenty vetoed this historic legislation last week...
The elections of 2008 served as a critical test of the nation's
election systems. With changes in voting machines and procedures,
coupled with expectations of record voter turnout, election
administrators held their breath and hoped their system wouldn't fail.
While the system didn't fail, voters faced serious obstacles in
exercising their right to vote. Voter registration ended up being the problem that affected the largest number of voters. Even before the first votes were cast, it was apparent
that our voter registration systems were woefully inadequate. While in
other nations 90% or more of the eligible voter population is
registered to vote, in the United States less than 75% of eligible
voters are registered.