Concerned About Voter Fraud? Time to Try AVR

Author: Fair Vote
Created: 27 July, 2017
Updated: 17 October, 2022
3 min read

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) is a process where “state officials automatically register eligible citizens using reliable information from other government lists. All would be given the chance to “opt out” or decline registration.”

This policy proposal seeks to resolve the issue of having a barrier at the polls.

According to the Pew Center on the States:

“One in four eligible citizens is not registered to vote and one in eight voter registrations in the United States is invalid or significantly inaccurate.”

Nonpartisan organizations advocating for the implementation of AVR recommend that state agencies become responsible for implementing this policy.

AVR bills have become more popular in states across the country in recent years, as an increasing number of state legislatures are adopting legislation related to AVR.

Why is AVR a common sense policy?

1. Creates a Diverse and More Represented Voting Population

Implementing AVR is associated with a more diverse voting population that is more representative of the state population.

In Oregon, following the adoption of the AVR bill in 2015, the Oregon Motor Voter (OMV), voters who were registered through the Oregon Office of Motor Vehicles were “younger, more rural, lower-income, and more ethnically diverse” than the pool of registered voters who had registered themselves. These voters were "older, more educated, higher incomes, and […] as a group, less racially diverse.”

2. Lowers Cost for Voter Registration

IVP Existence Banner

The adoption of AVR has been associated with drastically lower costs compared to other voter registration methods. In Canada, which uses a form of AVR, the state spends only 35 cents per “active voter.”

On the other hand, “Oregon’s old paper-based voter registration system cost the state $7.67 per registration transaction or $4.11 per registered voter in 2008.”

Both sides of the aisle can agree that in this era of reduced spending, AVR is a fiscally responsible policy that can enhance America’s democracy.

3. Eliminates Human Error

Implementing AVR is associated with a decrease in human errors in voter registration.

Currently, many voters must fill out a paper registration form that a government employee then processes. This exposes the government to data entry mistakes made by clerks who quickly enter many voter registration forms before registration deadlines.

Moreover, this policy decreases the number of mistakes associated with the registrant’s handwriting, where the clerk is unable to understand what is written and the registration is thus deemed invalid.

case study conducted in Maricopa County, Arizona determined that the small percentage of paper-based registration in the county made up an overwhelming number of the registration riddled with errors, thus demonstrating that using paper registration increases the likelihood of registration errors.

IVP Existence Banner

4. Decreases Voter Fraud

With AVR, only eligible voters are registered to vote, information is frequently updated in government databases and government agencies have access to eligibility information such as dates of birth and citizenship status.

In Oregon, the implementation of AVR permitted the state to update 570,000 inaccurate addresses. Moreover, AVR legislation under consideration in certain states carry heavy penalties for individuals who provide false information.

Complete and accurate voter rolls are essential to the integrity of the electoral process. This is why states should implement AVR and allow American citizens to fairly participate in American democracy.

Editor's note: This article, written by Marie Lemieux, originally published on FairVote's blog, and has been modified slightly for publication on IVN.

Photo Credit: Niyazz / shutterstock.com

Latest articles

Voting Center
Report: More States Ban Ranked Choice Voting in 2024 Than Any Other Year
Ballotpedia released a report on the increased efforts in various states across the US to ban ranked choice voting, a popular nonpartisan reform that continues to gain momentum....
17 July, 2024
2 min read
voter suppression
Independent Voters Face Abuse and Intimidation in Tennessee Primaries
Last week, I recorded a podcast interview with Gabe Hart. Gabe lives in western Tennessee and is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging voter suppression signs that are hung at every poll site in Tennessee on primary day....
16 July, 2024
1 min read
Donald Trump
Trump's Chance to Temper the Hyperbolic Rhetoric
In the wake of the attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump, leaders on both sides of the aisle publicly called for unity and the tempering of extreme and hyperbolic language. But those calls have been better in theory, than practice....
15 July, 2024
3 min read