Automatic Voter Registration (S373/H2091)

Our new project at Freedom North Shore will be to help get Automatic Voter Registration, or AVR, passed. We fight battles about issues every day, it seems, but VOTING IS THE WAR. Without voting, and electing people that truly represent us, we lose the battles and the war. And our right to vote is under siege — from registering, to purging of voter rolls to hackable voting machines. And on the face of it, it looks like a daunting task to fix this system but one easy thing to do is to implement AVR. AVR automatically registers eligible voters who have contact with the RMV or MassHealth.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AVR
(Adopted from Common Cause literature written by Joyce Hackett)

Oregon was the first state in the nation to implement automatic voter registration (AVR) and after doing so, registered 375,00 new voters and corrected 265,000 records. Since then, 9 more states implemented AVR and we are hoping that Massachusetts will be the 11th.

Here’s why.
The US is the only western democracy that relies on its citizens to update and maintain the voter rolls, resulting in inaccurate voting rolls and one of the lowest registration rates in the world. With AVR, eligible voters are automatically registered when they interact with the RMV or MassHealth, unless they decline. These agencies, as you can imagine, have more accurate contact information than the Board of Elections and AVR would securely transfer information to the Board of Elections, where it would be double-checked.

AVR:

  • is accurate. It eliminates inaccurate voter information by sending current information from each RMV and MassHealth to the County clerks who then double-check the information. Only eligible voters get put on the voting rolls.
  • saves time. Election officials won’t face a mountain of paper registrations just before an election. Voters who move in-state will automatically stay registered to vote.
  • saves money. A paper registration costs $3.84 per voter whereas with AVR the average cost would be $0.03 per voter.
  •  is bipartisan. Both Republican-controlled states and Democrat-controlled states have adopted AVR.
  • increases participation in elections. All eligible Americans should be able to vote. AVR would increase the voter rolls by 680,000 voters in Massachusetts.

AVR doesn’t:

  • cost taxpayers any money to implement. Massachusetts has $43M from Help America Vote Act, 2002 (HAVA) that can only be used for election modernization, equipment and training.
  • register unqualified or ineligible voters.
  • change how we vote, where we vote, or how votes are counted.
  • register those who don’t want to vote. Anyone can opt out of having his/her info sent to the County clerk’s office.

Stay tuned. More info to come!

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