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Policy Library

Increase Voter Participation with Same Day Registration

For too many Americans, the main impediment voting is also the simplest to solve -- they are not registered to vote. Even by conservative estimates, more than 20% of eligible American voters are not registered. In the majority of states, early registration deadlines mean that by the time voters are most engaged and interested in the political process as an election approaches, it is too late for them to register and participate. Unsurprisingly, states that allow same-day registration have consistently higher voter participation than those that do not. The Same Day Registration Act gives more eligible voters the opportunity to participate simply and easily by registering and casting their ballots on the same day.

The National Landscape

Passed in:

California, Colorado, Connecticut, D.C., Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine (12), Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Introduced in:

Delaware, Indiana (12), Kansas, Nevada, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia

In The News

“A registration deadline four weeks before an election, in the prime time of campaigning when most voters are just beginning to become interested in the election, discourages everyday people with busy lives from voting.”
“When voters are allowed to register at a polling place on Election Day, they can complete the entire process under the supervision of state election workers. . . . Same-day registration also makes it easier for voters to keep their information current in the state's database.”

Partners

  • Voting rights advocates
  • Good government groups
  • Youth advocates

Opposition

  • Interest groups that benefit from low voter participation
Call us for real-time support using this library, problem-solving tips, and follow-up from our team of national experts:
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FAQ

Who does this help?
Same-day voter registration benefits everyone by making it easier for more people to participate in the democratic process. It is particularly helpful to young people, voters who become more engaged as Election Day nears and those who are juggling work, family and other obligations who will benefit from a simplified process to register and update their voter registration.
Is this burdensome to administer?
No. Multiple states have allowed same day registration since the 1970s, showing that it is easy and straightforward to implement. States newly enacting same day registration report that the only change is a reallocation of staff to adjust to voter registrations coming in at different times.
Won’t this lead to voter fraud?
No. Traditional rules and penalties apply to those registering same day as to those registering ahead of an election, and states with same day registration do not show increased rates of voter fraud.
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Model Policy

SECTION 1 (TITLE):
This act shall be known as the Election Day Registration Act.

SECTION 2 (PURPOSE):
To allow qualified voters to register to vote up to and including on Election Day.

SECTION 3 (PROVISIONS):

(a) The intent of this act is to remove barriers to participation in the political process and make voting and registration more convenient and accessible by allowing qualified voters to register to vote up to and on election day.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an elector who is not registered to vote in STATE or who is registered to vote in STATE but has moved within the state and needs to make a change of address may register or update his or her address prior to and on election day in accordance with this section and rules adopted pursuant to this section.

(c) An elector may register and vote prior to an election or on election day if the elector:
  • (i) Appears in person at an [early voting location or] polling place at a time when that [early voting location or] polling place is open;
  • (ii) Completes and signs a voter registration application and provides proof of identity and residence as otherwise would be required of a voter to register in STATE; and
  • (iii) Completes and signs a self-affirmation on a form to be provided by the Secretary of State in which the elector affirms under penalty of perjury that they meet the requirements for voting in STATE and has not, nor will not, cast more than one ballot in any election.
  • (iv) The elector may then vote at the [early voting location or] polling place where the elector registered under the same process as would apply if the elector had registered under prior voter registration deadlines.

(d) An elector who has moved within the state or needs to otherwise update his or her voter registration may do so under the same procedures outlined in (c) above.

(e) As soon as practicable, each election official responsible for registering voters who receives registrations or updated registrations pursuant to sections (c) or (d) above shall access the statewide voter registration list to add or update voter registration information when an elector registers or updates his or her information pursuant to this section. The Secretary of State shall prescribe procedures to enable such additions or updates to be accomplished on an expedited basis.

(f) The Secretary of State shall promulgate rules as may be necessary to implement this section.