By in Random

Online Voter Registration in 21 States

Online voter registration became a reality in 2002, when Arizona became the first state to offer the service to its citizens. Since then, an additional 27 states have enacted online voter registration for residents, with 20 of those providing the service.

To learn about the availability of online voter registration in your state, check this link current to July 1, 2015 from the National Conference of State Legislatures, NCSL.

Why Would States Want to Offer Online Voter Registration?

The convenience of online registration for the citizenry comes to mind as the first reason a state would want to offer this service, but there are also perks to the state itself in using an online system for voter registration.

After the initial investment in developing an online registration system, Arizona and Washington, the first states to offer this service, reported a savings of $0.80 per registration application . In addition, most online state systems for this have eliminated the need to generate any paperwork; the systems are seamless and everything is accomplished via computer.

How Safe Is Your Information?

The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that none online voter registration systems in place have been known to occur. To learn what your particular state is doing to protect your information in online voter registration, the United States Election Assistance Commission provides this interactive map with the information for each state's Board of Elections.

Online Voter Registration -- Is It for You?

Internet-based voter registration may not appeal to you -- or be available in your state at this time. If you or someone you know would benefit from being able to complete voter registration in the privacy of your home, the U.S. Vote Foundation provides both voter registration and absentee ballot requests for every state, for people both home and abroad. This site is a one-stop shop not only to have the paperwork sent to you for voter registration, but it provides information on your state's requirements to be able to register, deadlines for registering for a particular election, and more.

Both the option of online registration and applying for such registration at home may be appealing to people for a number of reasons. Both are practical options for those who may be home-bound (they can then vote by absentee ballot), those with limited transportation or busy schedules.

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Image Credit » by Kaz

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Kasman wrote on July 19, 2015, 12:00 PM

Online voting is also available in the UK and I think it's a great idea. There are concerns about the security of the process but I think these are more perceived than actual. It will certainly encourage me to vote in every election in which I am eligible to do so and, hopefully, will be attractive to those 'Facebook Fanatics' who simply don't vote at all at present.

Feisty56 wrote on July 19, 2015, 12:18 PM

This is only online voter registration. Folks are actually able to vote online in the UK? That's a tremendous asset, I think. In the U.S., we are so mired in revisiting ad nauseam the same old topics to move forward with such progressive ideas. How long has online voting been available to you?

Feisty56 wrote on July 19, 2015, 12:20 PM

Online registration won't appeal to everyone, but I do think it's an asset for a state to be able to provide that service to its residents. I understand your concerns about the security of online information, though on the other hand, we don't know with any certainty how secure the original paper system has been.

Kasman wrote on July 19, 2015, 12:24 PM

Feisty56 - sorry, my mistake! It's the same as in the states - registration and not actual voting. It will be introduced at some time in the future but it is on hold at the moment

Feisty56 wrote on July 19, 2015, 12:37 PM

Whew, I hadn't recalled reading that online voting was available in the UK, but thought it must have slipped right past me. I was just about to research the stats on whether online voting increased voter participation there or not. : )

Koalemos wrote on July 19, 2015, 12:54 PM

This has existed in England for some time, but I cannot say for certain when it began.
I would be curious to know if voting would be allowed while outside the country.

Feisty56 wrote on July 19, 2015, 1:20 PM

I'm not familiar with the procedures in England/UK for its citizens who are abroad to vote, but I am inclined to think absentee ballots would be available, similar to in the U.S. Military personnel and others out-of-country who are registered to vote have the ability to cast their ballots.

Feisty56 wrote on July 19, 2015, 1:24 PM

I don't know if this applies to your individual situation, but did find this article about the Votes for Life bill in England and ex-pats rights to vote:

Koalemos wrote on July 19, 2015, 2:03 PM

Yes, this does answer my question. I was referring to situations like mine in which I am abroad on holiday.
I do not see any reason for someone who has chosen to live elsewhere to want to vote in British elections.

wolfgirl569 wrote on July 20, 2015, 11:28 AM

I am already registered but think it is a good idea as long as they keep the info protected

Feisty56 wrote on July 20, 2015, 9:05 PM

Ohio is not yet one of the states with online registration. The first article I mentioned in the post describes a bit of what other states are doing to keep this private information private.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 20, 2015, 10:13 PM

I don't think we have online voter registration anywhere in Canada. We can register when we file our taxes, though. We stopped seeing enumerators a good 10-15 years ago, I guess. They do still make the rounds in some areas for the provincial or local elections, but I imagine we'll see an end to that soon too.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 20, 2015, 10:24 PM

I'd love to see online voting in Canada! Like you, I think the security concerns are being played up too much. If we can file our taxes online, surely we can vote that way too!

Yes, I would certainly vote in all the elections from my computer if I could. It would probably encourage me to pay more attention to municipal elections, school district elections, etc. and it would make voting in the federal and provincial elections so much easier! I do think it might also encourage those who never vote, to cast their ballot.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 20, 2015, 10:36 PM

I dunno, I never found the door to door registration terribly secure. Here anyway, they registered anyone who answered the door and claimed to be resident & eligible. They'd just ask for a birth date and occupation - no ID or proof that you lived at the address. (In theory, it would be possible to register in more than one place.) I also didn't care for the fact that the voters' lists were posted up on telephone poles and distributed door to door, with people's full name, occupation and address for all to see...

Ruby3881 wrote on July 20, 2015, 10:40 PM

In Canada we have early balloting for those who expect to be away during the election. And we have absentee ballots for anyone who will be out of country (or I believe away from their home riding, as a student away at school) during the election.

Feisty56 wrote on July 20, 2015, 11:11 PM

They post voter's lists on phone poles? What sort of purpose could that serve? If I were on the cusp of deciding whether or not to register to vote, public lists like that might well curtail my interest.

Feisty56 wrote on July 20, 2015, 11:17 PM

I don't know how other states do it, but in Ohio anyone can vote early or file an absentee ballot if they wish -- and meet the time frames. I don't imagine many election officials would like me to say this, but I think that promoting the use of these two tools would increase the number of people who vote in an election. Busy working people, older adults with transportation or mobility issues and more.

Shellyann36 wrote on July 21, 2015, 2:12 AM

Here in NC there is a big upset about showing your ID when you vote. The Republicans passed the law and the Democrats are arguing that it will keep the poor people from voting. In 2016 a government issued ID is required to vote in our state. I can see both sides of the fence. The last voting round someone registered under my son's name to vote and he was in Texas at the time so it was not him. I specifically called him and asked him. The other side of the fence is the fact that older people or low income households cannot afford to get their IDs made. I can understand this as well because a state issued ID or DL is expensive. However a no-fee voter ID is available but you have to have certain documentation to get the ID. Some people may find it hard to get the documentation needed. Birth certificates cost $10 each for recent years but for someone older it might cost much more. Of course if someone needs a SS card there is the action of getting to the nearest SS office and getting a card, providing all of the info needed, etc. For an older person on a limited income getting the necessary documents (price, travel expenses to offices, etc) can be a big deterrent.

Feisty56 wrote on July 21, 2015, 10:48 AM

I have mixed feelings about voter ID laws. Back in the day, such laws were Jim Crow in nature, intended to keep black people and other minority groups from voting.

I can see the difficulties that could arise for all sorts of people and circumstances with the voter ID laws. They seem once again to be discouraging a fair number of people from the ballot box. This time around it isn't so much about ethnicity, but income level. It would seem a republic -- a governed democracy -- should be doing all it can to encourage its citizens to vote, rather than putting more hurdles in place.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 23, 2015, 12:07 AM

Indeed! There were a lot of times when the early voting was in a polling place that was closer to home, or the hours worked out better. One time I just went in early on a whim because I had an hour to kill and the early voting was being held close to where I was at the time.

A lot of folks seemed not to know about early voting, or to realize that anyone can do it. You don't have to have a special reason.

Ruby3881 wrote on July 23, 2015, 12:11 AM

Not anymore, but they used to. Today the lists aren't published. You just get a voter card in the mail. But yeah, "back when" they used to go door to door in every neighbourhood asking profession, full name, and sometimes religion (had to do with voting for the school board elections.) They'd publish the names of eligible voters at each address, and the lists went to every home & were posted on telephone polls around the area. Talk about helping out the identity thieves!

But this was decades ago...

AliCanary wrote on July 23, 2015, 4:20 PM

I registered the old-fashioned way years ago, but I guess if I moved, I would need to do it. A lot of places have voter registration at the library, which is where I did it, when I got my library card. Killed two birds with one stone (isn't that a violent saying? lol)!

Feisty56 wrote on July 23, 2015, 11:09 PM

I don't think we can register to vote at the library, but we can do so when we renew our driver's licenses. I think the ability to register to vote should be possible in all government offices.

cheri wrote on July 24, 2015, 6:58 AM

We never had online voting here in the Philippines yet. I wonder if that will ever happen

CoralLevang wrote on July 25, 2015, 5:09 PM

I think it is an idea that will try to get more people involved, but I do not like that I cannot go to a polling booth, and have to mail it in or go online nowadays. There was something quite exciting about driving to the polling station.

Feisty56 wrote on July 25, 2015, 5:27 PM

cheri , As far as I know, there is no online voting in the US either. People can go online in 21 states, though, to register to vote.

Feisty56 wrote on July 25, 2015, 5:28 PM

You don't have any polling places there? All voting is done online? I had no idea any of the states had gone with online voting. What about all those people without computers? Must they file absentee ballots?

CoralLevang wrote on July 25, 2015, 6:03 PM

No, not online. But there are no more polling booths in my area. MUST do it by what we used to call "absentee" voting--mail or drop box.

Feisty56 wrote on July 25, 2015, 9:19 PM

Was this done as a cost-saving measure, do you know? I agree with you. I enjoy the little bit of pageantry that is the ritual of going to the polling place to vote.

RonElFran wrote on July 26, 2015, 8:10 PM

The fact is that in the U. S. voter ID laws are claimed to fix a problem that doesn't exist. Here in Pennsylvania the state's new voter ID law was challenged in court. In court filings the state of PA admitted that it could not point to a single prosecution for in-person voter fraud (the only kind voter IDs could stop) anywhere in the U. S. No one has been able to identify any substantial amount of such fraud, but that is the claimed rationale for voter ID laws. What has been demonstrated and verified is that when such laws are in effect, thousands of legitimately registered voters are denied their right to vote because they don't have the required ID. It's just coincidence, of course, that the demographics most affected by ID laws are exactly those that have historically not voted for the party that pushes such laws. Pure coincidence.

Feisty56 wrote on July 26, 2015, 9:44 PM

Thanks for that information about there actually being a problem with voter fraud. The problem, and the solutions, are circular, aren't they? The voices that go unheard are more likely to be the ones voting against politicians that push these very laws making it even more likely that the voices will remain silent.

I've spent quite some time and energy trying to explain to those not registered, not participating in the democratic process, how absolutely vital it is that they become involved -- and they then encourage those they know to do the same. Until that happens, I believe we're just going to see more of what we already have.

Shellyann36 wrote on July 28, 2015, 3:07 PM

@RonElFran you are so right. It is being pushed by the party not voted for by the demographics. Although it is "free" to get a voter ID here in NC you also have to have the information such as proof of ID. Now how many people will be able to get out and get the needed paperwork?