Leagues across the country are often focused on battling back against attacks to voters’ rights, but a new trend is giving us something to be excited about: in 2015, a handful of state legislatures have introduced online voter registration bills. Online voter registration cuts costs, increases the accuracy of voter rolls and eases the administrative burdens on elections officials, while also increasing voter registration numbers. Online voter registration proposals were most recently passed in New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Meanwhile, strongly supported bills in Florida and Texas are facing roadblocks. Over 26 states have, or will soon have, online voter registration, so now is the time for Florida and Texas to pass this pro-voter advancement to our elections system.
In Florida, the online voter registration bill currently sits on Governor Rick Scott’s desk, where he has until May 22 to sign it into law. The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVFL) worked with a statewide coalition to ensure that legislators from both sides of the aisle supported the bill – in fact, online voter registration passed by an overwhelming, bipartisan and veto-proof majority. The support of every county clerk in Florida, the group most directly impacted by the implementation of online voter registration, was also vital to the passage of the bill. The Florida League and coalition partners are hopeful that Governor Scott, who has previously been publically critical of the bill, will take into account the overwhelming bipartisan support for and the vast benefits of online voter registration, and sign the bill into law.
The League of Women Voters of Texas (LWVTX) has also been working hard with coalition partners to raise awareness about online voter registration. Unfortunately, despite public support and the Texas League’s testimony (PDF) in support of the proposal, the bill did not move out of committee earlier this month, effectively killing it for the 2015 session. The Texas League also wrote op-ed articles and appeared on the local news to help educate the public on the need for online voter registration. Similar to Florida’s proposal, the Texas bill had widespread bipartisan support, including from elections officials across the state. LWVTX isn’t giving up the fight, though, and continues to educate on this issue in hopes it will pass in the future.
The proposed online voter registration bills in Florida and Texas would provide thousands of citizens the ability to easily register to take part in our democracy. Across the country, League advocates will continue to push for positive elections reforms like online voter registration—especially systems which would allow all eligible voters, not just some, to register online.
Online voter registration is just one of five reforms the League of Women Voters is proposing to improve our elections system. Watch our video to learn more about how we can improve our elections!