Online Voter Registration

10/22/2020

Dad registering to vote online

Our organization does not run elections and cannot provide legal advice. If you are a voter looking for assistance, please contact your local election official. You can find your local election official's website and contact information by using this database from the US Vote Foundation.

Overview

As of October 2020, a total of 40 states and D.C. offer online registration, and one other state (Oklahoma) has passed legislation and is currently phasing in implementation of their online registration. See the table below for details.

Online voter registration systems supplement the traditional paper-based process, by which new voters fill out a paper form that is submitted to election officials, who confirm the registration is valid and enter the information from the paper application into the registration system.

Online voter registration follows essentially the same process, but instead of filling out a paper application, the voter fills out a form via an Internet site, and that paperless form is submitted electronically to election officials. In most states the application is reviewed electronically; if the request is confirmed to be valid, the new registration is added to the state’s voter registration list.

That validation step is done by comparing the information on the online registration form against the information provided by the same individual when he or she received a driver’s license or other state-issued identification card. The signature already on record with the state becomes the signature on record for voting. When the information does not match, the application is sent to officials for further review or action.

In most states, online voter registration systems work for people who have state-issued driver’s licenses or identification cards, although a few states provide online access for other potential voters as well. In all states, paper registration forms are available for anyone, including those who cannot register online.

Arizona was the innovator in paperless voter registration, having implemented its system in 2002. Washington followed with authorizing legislation in 2007 and implementation in 2008. Since then, more and more states have gone live with online voter registration. While most states have enacted specific legislation to authorize online voter registration, some have made online voter registration available without enabling legislation. See the table below for details. 

View the Nov. 12, 2013, webinar Online Voter Registration: The Bipartisan Trend in Elections for details about online voter registration, including history, implementation and security.

The Pew Charitable Trusts has two reports of note: Online Voter Registration: Trends in Development and Implementation, released in May 2015, and Understanding Online Voter Registration, released in June 2013.

Costs (and Savings) With Online Voter Registration

According to the 2010 report, Online Voter Registration: Case Studies in Arizona and Washington, Arizona experienced a reduction in per-registration costs from 83 cents per paper registration to 3 cents per online registration. Other states have also experienced significant cost savings in processing registrations. 

Implementation costs have in some cases been absorbed within existing budgets, been paid for with Help America Vote Act funds or have required one-time appropriations, ranging from $250,000 to $1.8 million for more elaborate systems in larger states. See The Pew Charitable Trusts report Understanding Online Voter Registration for more detailed cost information.

For more background on online voter registration, see the April 2014 issue of NCSL's elections newsletter, The Canvass, or contact NCSL’s elections team.

Security

Several approaches can and are used to ensure system security and prevent fraud or breaches by hackers.

  • The registrant provides his or her driver's license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number, information that others will not have.
  • Systems often include “captcha” boxes, where registrants must decode images that a computer cannot decode, to prevent hacking by programmers.
  • Data is encrypted and data logs highlight unusual activity that can be investigated.
  • Multi-screen systems, that offer just one question on a screen, are harder to hack.

Read this interview with cybersecurity expert, J. Alex Halderman, as he talks about security for online registration.

Recent Action 

New Jersey: Legislation was enacted in January 2020 to create online voter registration (SB 589). 

New York: Legislation was enacted in 2019 to make New York’s online voter registration system fully electronic (AB 2005). Previously the state had an online system through the Department of Motor Vehicles that allowed for an online application experience for voters, but paper applications were still being exchanged between agencies on the back-end.

Michigan: Legislation was enacted in 2018 to create online voter registration (SB 425). The secretary of state launched the online voter registration system in December 2019.

Oklahoma: In September of 2018, Oklahoma initiated the first phase of online voter registration. Previously registered voters can update their address of residence (if it is in the same county as their previous address), mailing address or party affiliation online. Voters who are not registered must complete and submit a paper registration form. A fully online voter registration system is expected in 2020.

Idaho: Online voter registration, enacted in 2016, went live on December 6, 2017.

Florida: Online voter registration, enacted in 2015, went live on October 1, 2017.

Tennessee: Online registration was enacted in May 2016 (SB1626/HB1742 and implemented in September 2017.

Ohio: Online registration was enacted in June 2016 (SB63), to be implemented in 2017.

Idaho: Online registration was enacted in April 2016 (SB 1297).

Rhode Island: Online registration was enacted in March 2016 (SB 2513).

Wisconsin: Online registration was enacted in March 2016 (SB 295) and implemented in 2017.

Kentucky: Online registration become available in March 2016. The system was developed without specific enabling legislation.

Alabama Online registration became available in February 2016. The system was developed without specific enabling legislation.

Iowa and New Mexico: Online voter registration systems in both states went live in January 2016. Iowa's system was developed without specific enabling legislation, and New Mexico enacted online voter registration in 2015.

Alaska: Online voter registration became available in November 2015.

Vermont: The secretary of state launched the online voter registration system in October 2015. The system was developed without specific enabling legislation.

West Virginia: Online voter registration, which was enacted in 2013, was implemented in September 2015.

Nebraska: Online voter registration, which was enacted in 2014, was implemented in September 2015. 

Pennsylvania: The governor announced the launch of the online voter registration system in August 2015. The system was developed under auspices of enabling legislation passed in 2002 and codified as Pa. Stat. Title 25 sec.1324.

Hawaii: Online voter registration, which was enacted in 2012, was implemented in August 2015.

Florida: Online voter registration was enacted in May 2015 (SB 228).

Oklahoma: Online voter registration was enacted in April 2015 (SB 313). 

New Mexico: Online voter registration was enacted in April 2015 (SB 643).

Illinois: Online voter registration became available in June 2014.

Massachusetts:Legislation to create online voter registration was enacted in May 2014.

Delaware: Full online voter registration became available in April 2014.

Nebraska: Legislation to create online voter registration was enacted in March 2014.

Georgia: Online voter registration became available in March 2014.

Minnesota: Online voter registration became available in October 2013, without enabling legislation. In 2014, the legislature authorized the use of the system.

Connecticut: Online voter registration went "live" in December 2013.

Illinois, Virginia and West Virginia: Legislation to create online voter registration was enacted in 2013.

States With Online Voter Registration
State Year Enacted Bill Number Year Implemented Website
Alabama n/a No legislation required 2016 Alabama Votes
Alaska n/a No legislation required 2015 Alaska Online Voter Registration
Arizona n/a No legislation required 2002 EZ Voter Registration
California 2011 SB 397 2012 California Online Voter Registration
Colorado 2009 HB 1160 2010 Go Vote Colorado
Connecticut 2012 HB 5024 2014 Connecticut Online Voter Registration
Delaware n/a No legislation required 2014 I Vote Delaware
D.C. n/a No legislation required 2015 D.C. Voter Registration Form
Florida 2015 SB 228 2017 Register to Vote Florida
Georgia 2012 SB 92 2014 Georgia Online Voter Registration
Hawaii 2012 HB 1755 2015 Hawaii Online Voter Registration 
Idaho 2016 SB 1297 2017 Idaho Votes
Illinois 2013 HB 2418 2014 Illinois Online Voter Registration
Indiana 2009 HB 1346 2010 Indiana Online Voter Registration
Iowa n/a No legislation required 2016 Iowa Online Voter Registration
Kansas n/a No legislation required 2009 Kansas Online Voter Registration
Kentucky n/a No legislation required 2016 Kentucky Online Voter Registration
Louisiana 2009 HB 520 2010 Geaux Vote
Maryland 2011 HB 740 2012 Maryland Online Voter Registration
Massachusetts 2014 HB 3788 2015 Massachusetts Online Voter Registration
Michigan 2018 SB 425 2019 Michigan Online Voter Registration
Minnesota (a) 2014 HF 2096 2013 MN Votes
Missouri (b) n/a No legislation required 2014 Vote Missouri
Nebraska 2014 LB 661 2015 Nebraska Online Voter Registration
Nevada 2011 AB 82 2012 Nevada Online Voter Registration
New Jersey 2020 SB 589 2020 New Jersey Online Voter Registration
New Mexico 2015 SB 643 2016 New Mexico Online Voter Registration
New York (c) 2019 AB 2005 (2019) 2011 (no legislation at the time) New York Electronic Voter Registration 
North Carolina n/a No legislation required 2020 North Carolina Voter Registration Application
Ohio 2016 SB 63 2017 Ohio Online Voter Registration
Oklahoma (d) 2015 SB 313 2018 (Phase I) Oklahoma Voter Registration Information Online
Oregon 2009 HB 2386 2010 OreStar
Pennsylvania 2002 SB 607 2015 PA Online Voter Registration
Rhode Island 2016 SB 2513 2017 RI Online Voter Registration
South Carolina 2012 HB 4945 2012 S.C. Online Voter Registration
Tennessee 2016 SB1626/HB1472 2017 GoVoteTN
Utah 2009 SB 25 2010 Utah Online Voter Registration
Vermont n/a No legislation required 2015 Vermont Online Voter Registration
Virginia 2013 HB 2341 2013 Virginia Voter Registration
Washington 2007 HB 1528 2008 MyVote
West Virginia 2013 SB 477 2015 West Virginia Online Voter Registration
Wisconsin 2016 SB 295 2017 MyVote Wisconsin

(a) Minnesota in 2013 made online voter registration available without enabling legislation but the legislature in 2014 authorized the state's system.

(b) In Missouri, residents of Columbia or Boone County can register to vote online and electronically provide a signature using a mobile device, tablet computer or touchscreen computer, but not a standard desktop computer. The state reviews the information and prints out the registration form, which it sends to the person's local elections office for verification.

(c) New York first established an online voter registration system in 2011, but the registration system at the time was not fully paperless. Voters could submit a voter registration application online, through a system run by the Department of Motor Vehicles, but paper was exchanged between the motor vehicle system and the statewide database. In 2019 AB 2005 was enacted, requiring an electronic voter registration transmittal system and creating a fully online voter registration system.

(d) In Oklahoma, the first phase of implementation allows previosuly registered voters to update their address of residence (if it is in the same county as their previous address), mailing address or party affiliation online. Voters who are not registered must complete and submit a paper registration form.

Additional Resources