Online Voter Registration Grows Nationally, Connecticut’s Launch Prep Underway

In 2008 only two states allowed voters to register online. By the 2012 election 13 states had online registration systems up and running. Currently, at least 14 additional states are considering legislation that would allow online registration, according to the organization Nonprofit Vote.

Four additional states -- Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii and now Virginia-- have passed legislation facilitating online voter registration, but they have not yet begun registering voters electronically.  Connecticut’s law takes effect on January 1, 2014.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell made his state the 16th to pass a law providing for paperless, online voter registration when he signed newly approved legislation earlier this month. And in New Mexico, Governor Susana Martinez signed a new law permitting voters to update existing registration records electronically.

Online registration has been seen to help boost registration rates among young voters. Since Arizona pioneered online registration in 2002, the registration rate for 18-24 year olds has risen from 28% to 53%. Today, over 70% of Arizona's registrations are submitted online.

 In 2012, five states rolled out online voter registration statewide for the first time:voter reg

In California, during the five weeks leading up to the registration deadline, more than one million voters submitted online registration applications or updates. More than 60% of users were under the age of 35.

In Ohio, previously registered voters were allowed to update their registration information online and more than 100,000 individuals did so in the two months before the registration deadline--one-third in the week prior to the deadline and 13,000 alone on the day before registration closed.

In Oregon, which has allowed online registration since 2010, nearly 20,000 voters registered online on the state's deadline.

Connecticut’s online registration law, passed by the state legislature in 2012 at the urging of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Governor Malloy, will create an interface between the state’s existing Centralized Voter Registration System and the database housed at the state Department of Motor Vehicles that would verify the identity of a voter wishing to register online prior to approval by the local Registrar of Voters. Online registration takes effect next January.

Another reform - Election Day registration – that was part of the same legislation approved last year, will go into effect on July 1, 2013, in time for the 2013 municipal elections. Online registration will be available for the 2014 election cycle, which includes the election of Governor and the state’s legislative seats.

In Arizona, the costs associated with an online registration are just 3 cents compared to 83  cents for a paper registration. Online registration also reduces data entry errors and can lead to more accurate voter rolls, streamlining the Election Day experience for both voters and election officials, Nonprofit Vote points out.