Over the last two decades, the Internet has changed many
aspects of American life. According to the Pew Internet and American Life
Project, in 1995, only about 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. were going online. But
by mid-2011, the number had grown to more than 78 percent of American adults. Among
18-29-year olds, 94 percent were Internet users.
Given this now broad access and substantial recent growth,
the Internet has the potential to be an important tool to engage new voters,
particular young people, and to make it easier for all voters to remain engaged
in the process. Engaging new voters is important because an estimated 51
million eligible Americans remain unregistered to vote.
Online voter registration is a promising and forward-looking
method for states to expand the options available to eligible citizens to
register to vote. As states increasingly add online voter registration to the
mix, legislators should construct a system that maximizes the number of
eligible citizens who can take advantage of the opportunity to register online
and keep their information updated. As online registration becomes more widely available,
it will continue to increase the accuracy of the voter rolls, reduce costs, and
bring more young Americans into the electoral process.