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Florida Online Voter Registration Legislation is the Right Move

By Michael Thorning

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) applauds the Florida state legislature’s passage today of a bipartisan bill to implement online voter registration (OVR) in the state beginning in 2017. SB 228 passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support and heads to the governor’s desk.

BPC is actively working on voter registration and cross-state data sharing policy in several states across the country to educate policymakers on the importance of both to a more efficient election administration system. Two bipartisan commissions, the BPC’s Commission on Political Reform and the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA), whose work BPC is continuing, unanimously endorsed expanding online voter registration. We have been especially engaged on this issue in Florida throughout the first few months of 2015 through BPC Senior Advisor Donald Palmer, a former director of elections in both Florida and Virginia.

OVR is an essential competent to modernizing our nation’s election administration system. It benefits both voters in terms of ease of access and election administrators in terms of efficiency, security, and accuracy of the voter rolls. Twenty states have already implemented OVR and six more have enacted legislation to do so. Florida is close to joining this growing list.

The PCEA, which was established by President Obama following long lines and other voting difficulties in the 2012 elections, made online voter registration one of its key recommendations. In doing so, the commission noted that OVR systems have performed to expectations, and earned high confidence among voters as well as the support of election administrators from across the political spectrum. It also highlighted several benefits of online systems consistently brought forth by election administrators. Online voter registration systems:

  • reduce the high potential for error and instances of fraud that exists with traditional paper-based systems;
  • save jurisdictions a significant amount of money;
  • increase the accuracy and currency of the voter rolls, thereby reducing delays and congestion at the polling place; and
  • improve the voter experience because voters get immediate feedback when they are registered or when their information (e.g., address, party, etc.) has been updated.

The evidence is clear and the momentum is building toward adoption of online voter registration across the country. Florida’s elections, and thereby its voters, will benefit from implementation of an online voter registration system. BPC and the former commissioners of the PCEA will continue to be active in states considering implementing OVR to bring this administrative efficiency to all of the nation’s voters.

KEYWORDS: PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, FLORIDA, PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON ELECTION ADMINISTRATION, ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION