4 Ideas to Increase Voter Registration

Itís common for the politically active amongst us to lament the U.S.ís abysmal voter turnout. While there are a myriad of factors that undoubtedly go into why people arenít showing up to the polls, one thing is for certain: people canít vote if they arenít first registered. If the first step to a higher voter participation rate is a higher number of citizens registered to vote, here are some important changes this country can make:

1. Online Registration

This week Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, promoted legislation that would require all fifty states to establish secure websites for citizens to register to vote. With so much of our daily lives conducted on the internet, Gillibrand doesnít understand why the government is behind the times with something so important. ďInstead of adding new burdens, we should make voting easy for millions of people,Ē said the New York Democrat.

As it stands, only half of the countryís states permit people to register to vote online. Apparently, that leaves about 100 million unregistered yet eligible voters unable to complete a form online. Given how many people search†ďhow do I register to voteĒ prior to major elections, it would certainly seem convenient if they found a link that allowed them to follow through right then while already sitting at the computer.

2. Same-Day Registration

Face it: procrastination might as well be considered an American pastime at this point, so weíre kidding ourselves if we think people will remember to register to vote in some cases a full month before Election Day. Not everyone takes this approach though; ten states currently allow voters to show up to the polls and both register and vote all on the same day.

If the United States is really prioritizing voting as both a right and a responsibility, it would work to expand this same-day registration process. Instead, politicians like Wisconsinís Governor Scott Walker see the power of streamlining the process and are actually trying to eliminate same-day registration. Though Walker must perceive a tactical advantage in limiting voter turnout, thatís a definitely a step in the wrong direction for the health of democracy.

3. Tie Registration to the DMV

Oregonís Governor Kate Brown devised a creative idea to make the tedious process of visiting the DMV an all-inclusive process for registering to vote. Since citizens have to fill out the same kind of information on a voter registration form as they do to obtain or renew their driverís license (or ID), why not let one count as the other, she figured.

People who conduct business with the DMV and are not already registered to vote receive information in the mail within a matter of weeks informing them that they are now eligible to vote. If for whatever reason the citizens do not wish to be registered to vote, they can mail back a card saying they donít want to be added as a voter, making the process ďopt-outĒ rather than the usual ďopt-in.

4. No Registration at All

While Oregonís DMV-based plan is certainly progressive, it already begs the question, ďWhy not push even further?Ē Why arenít all citizens automatically registered to vote? Itís a concept thatís proven successful in other countries; in fact, countries that donít have a registration process boast higher voter turn-out rates, too. Perhaps itís time to put the responsibility on the government for declaring citizens eligible voters the moment they turn eighteen.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Warren Webber
Warren Webber4 years ago

Live long and prosper!

Bernie 2016!

Joanna M.
Joanna M4 years ago

The way I see it, it really boils down to this...either people are interested in voting, or they are not. Sure, you may gain a few extra voters by doing these things, but overall, you could show up on people's doorsteps with the voting machine, and if they don't care, they won't care.

David Thieke
David T4 years ago

I like Gov. Brown's idea of registering when you go to the DMV. Thanks for sharing this !

Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell4 years ago


Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn4 years ago

make it compulsary like in australia (we're friends) that's the only way the officials really know what the public wants in an election

Mina X.
Past Member 4 years ago

Get rid of the electoral b.s and count each vote... Until then, our votes are useless.

Lori Hone
Lori Hone4 years ago

AZ already does 2 out of 4, I registered to vote online and receive my ballot 2-3 weeks before the election to mail in by election day. Couldn't be easier

James Maynard
James Maynard4 years ago

I have spent the past decade helping
people to register and vote from
abroad. I do not understand the
abysmal turnout in my country.....