Automatic Voter Registration and the NVRA: A New Report (and a Podcast) Explains

By Project Vote July 15, 2016

AVR-Two NVRA Compliant Models (cover)Today we are proud to release Automatic Voter Registration: Two NVRA-Compliant Models, by election counsel Niyati Shah, and an audio discussion on the issue with Ms. Shah and Project Vote Legislative Director Marissa Liebling.

AVR is currently a hot topic in voting rights. Already, more than 25 states have introduced legislation to register eligible citizens to vote using information in existing government databases, with little or no effort needed behalf of the registrant. And yesterday, congressional lawmakers introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016, a transformative bill that would add up to 50 million new voters by automatically registering eligible citizens to vote.

Project Vote is excited about the potential of AVR to increase voter registration and help close the gap in voter registration rates among minority and low-income communities. We want AVR to succeed, and that means it’s vital that any AVR proposals comply with the NVRA, which already governs registration at government agencies. Indeed, to this end Project Vote has worked with state legislatures and local organizations in Oregon, California, Maryland, and Illinois, to name just a few.

This new, comprehensive report discusses key policy issues and considerations, along with two AVR models that states can adopt while remaining compliant with the government voter registration requirements of the NVRA.

These two models are:

Integrated Voter Registration: In this option, elements of automatic voter registration are integrated into existing NVRA procedures required by the NVRA at driver’s license offices and public assistance agencies.

Pending Voter Registration: In this option, a modernized version of same-day registration, data from state government agencies are used to register potentially eligible voters on a pending basis until they can attest to their eligibility at the polls.

Read or download this report here.

To help make the various issues involved in AVR implementation more accessible, Project Vote is also pleased to release our first ever “podcast” discussion. In this audio file, the paper’s author, Niyati Shah, is joined by Project Vote’s legislative director, Marissa Liebling, to talk through the opportunities and challenges of AVR. In this lively discussion, Shah and Liebling explain the requirements of the NVRA, outline the two compliant models, and discuss an array of options for how systems can be designed to complement, not contradict, the requirements of the NVRA. You can listen to this discussion below, or on Soundcloud.