If one thing defines us as Americans, we are genuinely proud of our democracy. The voting right, the ability to democratically elect our leaders and set our direction as a country, defines the U.S. domestically and globally. However, voter registration is a barrier many voters face when trying to get to the elections. For instance, registration as a college student voter while schooling in a different state is a challenging process that some students may not have time for or know how to go about. Complications in the voter registration process contribute to fewer voter turnouts and lead to voter suppression as the voices of many unregistered eligible voters are suppressed. A solution to this chaos is the automatic voter registration (AVR) for eligible voters, particularly when one reaches 18 years, ensuring that all eligible voters have a voice in American democracy.
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AVR will increase voter turnouts among youths as more time and resources are available for civic education. Civic education increases voter turnout in this case. Every election period, time, and resource is dedicated to registering voters. This time and resources would be of more value if spent on educating voters on the need to vote and their voting rights and doing outreach. Besides, instead of thinking about how to register, it would be more meaningful if voters analyze the candidates, the issues they are concerned about, policies to promote informed decisions, and confidence exercising their voice. Research also credits AVR for a boost in voter turnouts in some states. In the District of Columbia, the voter turnout for all registered voters in 2018 was only 46%, while 54% of voters registered through the AVR system did. Besides, the voter’s data under the AVR system is up to date, making it easier to contact them to vote (Rakich, 2019). Hence, possible higher voter turnout.
AVR will remove barriers to voter registration, reduce voter suppression, and increase youths’ participation in the nation’s politics through voting. Young people cite “not being registered” as their primary reason for failing to vote. According to recent studies, less than 50% of under 25 are registered, voters. The leading cause of lack of registration is that youths change addresses often than individuals over 30 years. Every relocation presents the need to register afresh as a voter. Political scientists describe the problem as the crucial stumbling block in the journey to the polls. One also risks being too registered. Coinciding registrations in more than one place has led to several youths being removed from the voting register without notice (Hill & Grumbach, 2019). AVR help eligible voters to register to vote in their current location without the stress of having to remember to do so. For example, states automatically register eligible American citizens when they first interact with government agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). If you are in California and have renewed your driving license, the state automatically registers you in voter roll when you leave DMV unless you opt out (Rakich, 2019). Hence, it reduces frequent eligible voters’ details missing in the voting role.
AVR is also cost-effective as it eliminates paperwork and is self-updating. AVR makes voter registration an “opt-out” instead of “opt-in.” Eligible American citizens interacting with government agencies, including DMV, are registered to vote or have their present voting registration details updated automatically, lest they decline. The captured details are transmitted electronically to election officials, eliminating the need for paper registration forms (Draper, 2020). This makes AVR cost-effective, helps clean up voter registers, and increases registration rates.
Overall, millions of eligible American citizens are blocked from voting, most often because of the outdated voter registration systems. It is sometimes very confusing, particularly for the youths who often relocate from one state to another, as they may find their names purged out of the voting role because of double registration, or they fail to register before the election date because of unavoidable circumstances. Automatic voter registration (AVR) for eligible voters, mainly when one turns 18, is essential to ensure that no eligible voter willing to vote is left out during the polls. AVR increases voter turnouts and removes barriers related to voter registration. It is also cost-effective.
Draper, B. M. (2020). No More Half Measures: The Case for Compulsory Voting in United States Elections. Elon L. Rev., 13, 147.
Hill, C., & Grumbach, J. (2019). An Excitingly Simple Solution to Youth Turnout, for the Primaries and Beyond. New York Times.
Rakich, N. (2019). What Happened When 2.2 Million People Were Automatically Registered To Vote. Polling Organization, 538.