Sorry, vote suppressors: Missouri–yes, deep red Missouri–is offering a granule of good news on the voting -rights front. Secretary of State Jason Kander [a Democrat] has announced that Missouri citizens can now register to vote, or change their voting address, via the internet. Hooray, the 21st century is beginning to dawn in my state! By doing this small, but vital, good deed, Kander is bucking the alarming trend toward increased voting restrictions that has been sweeping the states in the past few years.
Under the new procedure, Missouri voters can fill out registration forms on a computer, and the secretary of state’s office will complete a preliminary review. The forms then will be printed and mailed to local elections officials to check for completeness and validity. The on-line voting site is here.
Before the change went into effect in late December 2013, Missouri voters could print out a voter registration form from the secretary of state’s site, but then they would have to mail the document to the appropriate jurisdiction. [That's a significant hurdle, by the way. It's inconvenient. Plus, knowing who oversees voting in your area requires a level of awareness that, sadly, is not universal.] The new procedure puts the state staff in charge of seeing that the registration ends up in the right place. According to recent news reports, 193 people registered on-line at the new site within the first 24 hours of its launch.
According to Kander’s office, 15 other states–including Missouri’s neighbors Kansas and Indiana– currently have online tools for voter registration, and five others are developing them. Interestingly, Arizona was the first enact on-line voter registration– in 2002. According to the National Council of State Legislatures:
Arizona reports cost savings by eliminating the data entry process for state and county employees that a paper-based system requires, as well as increased accuracy in its voter rolls. The costs associated with a paper registration were 83 cents, while the cost of an online registration was 3 cents, according to the 2010 report, Online Voter Registration: Case Studies in Arizona and Washington.
Online voter registrations require a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number, and the inclusion of these data in all online registration allows for quick and accurate checks for duplicate records. For more details on online voter registration, see the June 2011 issue of NCSL’s elections newsletter, The Canvass
Where does your state stand? Here’s a chart of the current status, from the National Council of State Legislatures.
|Full Online Registration||Limited Online Registration|
|Arizona (implemented in 2002) EZ Voter Registration||Delaware (a)|
|California (implemented in 2012) California Online Voter Registration||Michigan (d)|
|Colorado (implemented in 2010) Go Vote Colorado||New Mexico (b)|
|Connecticut (passed in 2012; not implemented yet)||New York (c)|
|Georgia (passed in 2012; not implemented yet)||Ohio (b)|
|Hawaii (passed in 2012; not implemented yet)|
|Illinois (passed in 2013; not implemented yet)|
|Indiana (implemented in 2010) Indiana Online Voter Registration|
|Kansas (implemented in 2009) Kansas Online Voter Registration|
|Louisiana (implemented in 2010) Geaux Vote|
|Maryland (implemented in 2012) Maryland Online Voter Registration|
|Minnesota (implremented in 2013) Register to Vote|
|Nevada (implemented in 2012) Nevada Online Voter Registration|
|Oregon (implemented in 2010) OreStar|
|South Carolina (implemented in 2012) S.C. Online Voter Registration|
|Utah (implemented in 2010) Utah Online Voter Registration|
|Virginia (implemented in 2013)Virginia Voter Registration|
|Washington (implemented in 2007) MyVote|
|West Virginia (passed in 2013; not implemented yet)|
(a) In Delaware, people who register to vote in person at a DMV office experience an electronic, paperless process. Also, voters who register from other locations and have access to their own digital signature can submit their application online. However, voters who do not appear in person at a DMV and do not have access to an electronic copy of their signature must print the registration form, sign it, and return it by mail to election officials before their registration process is complete.
(b) In New Mexico and Ohio, a registered voter can update an existing registration record online, but new applications must still be made on paper.
(c) In New York, the registration system is not fully paperless. Voters can submit a voter registration application online, but paper is exchanged between the motor vethe system and the statewide database. This creates a paperless experience from the voter’s perspective, but administrative processes are still paper-based.
(d) In Michigan, an online system permits voters to change their address for both their drivers license (or personal ID card) and voter registration at the same time. Michigan law requires that the same address be on record for both.
Gloria Shur Bilchik is a freelance writer and community volunteer in St. Louis, Missouri. She is the editor of Occasional Planet. She views the preservation of progressive values as vital to making the US a humane, livable place for her children and grandchildren.