[Image via pewtrusts]
One recurring story in the field of elections – and thus on this blog – has been the steady growth in the number of states adopting and implementing online voter registration (OVR). As the number grows, however, the story shifts away from how many states are adopting it toward how it’s working in practice.
Fortunately, the election team at The Pew Charitable Trusts has a new online interactive that allows you to see how the states that have moved to OVR are making it work. Here’s how they describe it:
Online voter registration saves taxpayer dollars, increases the accuracy of voter rolls, and provides a convenient way for Americans to register or update their information. The Pew Charitable Trusts monitors and surveys states that implement or continue to offer online voter registration. Overall, the responses indicate that online registration is cost-effective for states, easy for voters, and more accurate than paper forms. It is also more secure, reducing the potential for fraud by instantly verifying voters’ identities and eligibility. This interactive tool tracks which states offer online registration and summarizes the survey findings across five topics: legislation, development, features, access, and processing.
The interactive allows you to see how OVR came to be and, more importantly, how it works in each state. You can see (among other things) which states required legislation, who built their system in-house as opposed to relying on a vendor and what information is required to access the system. A really nice feature is the ability to “comparison shop” (my words, not Pew’s) three separate states to see how their systems are alike – and different.
It is important to note that this page focuses exclusively on states where OVR is actually in place (as opposed to just enacted or still in development); as Pew notes, late-breaking states like Kentucky (which just went live March 1) aren’t yet in the system but will be added, as will other new OVR states, as the come on line. This makes the Pew page a complement to, not a replacement for, NCSL’s page tracking the progress of state OVR legislation nationwide.
Resources like this are invaluable both in explaining to policymakers, the media and the interested public how OVR works in the states as well as serving as a repository of information for further innovation and development in the field. Thanks to Pew for sharing this resource, which paints an even more-detailed picture of how far and wide OVR has spread in the last few years.
Will resources like this help remaining non-OVR states to push through to enactment and implementation? Stay tuned …