Getting Voter Registration Right
NCSL Legislative Summit: Monday, Aug. 8, 2011
Running time: 01:09:31
Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, Utah
John Lindback, senior officer, Pew Center on the States
Delegate Jon Cardin, Maryland
Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections, Washington
Registering voters is the first stage of running good elections. How can registration help prevent registration fraud, accommodate busy voters, and avoid errors? How much does registration cost the states? What are the coming trends in registration practice?
This session was moderated by Utah Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck. Her state passed legislation this year to enable online voter registration.
John Lindback, from the Pew Center on the States, addressed the need for data-checking within a state and described the brand-new interstate data exchange, which will help states verify their voter registration rolls. In addition, he indicated that online voter registration can be both a cost-saving measure and a method to reduce registration errors.
Maryland Delegate Jon Cardin addressed the problems that Maryland has had with the transfer of voter registrations from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to the statewide voter rolls. He sponsored successful legislation this year that will make data-sharing among state agencies smoother, enable online voter registration, and permit the state to join the interstate data exchange.
Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections for the state of Washington, described the administrative and political steps his state followed to create online voter registration in 2008. Making the change cost less than expected and has saved the state hundreds of thousands of dollars.