This One Change Could Revolutionize Voter Turnout

May 06, 2016

Voter rights for all signs

What if we told you that there was one thing – one system – that could be put in place that would virtually guarantee that more people would vote? Would you say we were mad? Would you say we’d had one too many bowls of Half Baked?

You probably would.

But you’d be wrong. Because such a thing does exist, and it’s same-day voter registration.


Same-Day What Now?

Ordinarily – i.e. in 36 states – you have to register to vote at least several weeks before Election Day. The registration cut-off date is an arbitrary date that city officials choose, and it’s usually long before anyone’s engaged with election issues. That means that before the height of the election hoopla, before everyone from your dental hygienist to your grocery store cashier are talking about candidates and debates, you have to know you want to vote and find the time to go to your town hall to register. That’s a lot of thinking ahead, when you may not even have voting on your radar yet.

But if you live in one of the 11 states that have same-day voter registration, you can register to vote on Election Day, right at your polling station, and then cast your vote. Badda-bing-badda-boom, it’s a one-stop shop.


Voter Turnout’s Silver Bullet

Studies show that states that allow same-day voter registration consistently have among the highest voter turnouts in the nation. In the 2012 presidential election, for example, four of the five states with the highest voter turnout offered same-day registration. On average, states that offered it had turnout rates at least 10 percentage points higher than those that didn’t.

Coincidence? We think not. It’s not a coincidence that when you remove the barriers to voting – like registering long before Election Day – more people vote.


a voter turnout graph (totalCostElections)


Who Votes?

And while it’s awesome enough that same-day registration gets more people voting, what’s even better is who it gets to vote.

Same-day registration particularly increases turnout among people of color, lower-income people, the elderly, and those who move frequently, which are typically younger voters – all groups who face the most barriers to voting. And when entire populations of people face voting barriers, their voices are not heard in the election process or in subsequent policy discussions. So getting more people of color and lower-income people to vote? That’s truly a win for our democracy.


Voter Fraud? Not Here.

Worried that this system could lead to voter fraud? You needn’t be. Seriously. Not only is voter fraud in general all but non-existent, but election officials agree that allowing same-day voter registration is just as safe as registering a month in advance. Between showing proof of residency, post-election audits, and other measures, we can be sure that there are no voting shenanigans just because people can register on Election Day.

Join us in supporting same-day voter registration all over the US. We desperately need a democratic system that works for everyone, where every person is able to cast their vote and have their voice heard. We want to demolish barriers to voting more than we want to demolish that bowl of Chubby Hubby – and same-day voter registration is one great way to do that.