06.14.17

Leahy Leads Bill, Joined By Klobuchar and Durbin, To Increase Voter Participation

. . . Automatic Voter Registration Legislation Modeled After Successes In Vermont and Other States.

Senator Patrick Leahy introduced legislation Wednesday to modernize the nation’s voter registration systems and make it easier for all Americans to vote and participate in our democracy. 

The Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2017 requires states to automatically register eligible vote when they interact with certain state and federal agencies, unless those people decline.  The bill would streamline the voter registration process and allow citizens to register online, making it easier for individuals who move to update their information and be able to exercise their right to vote.  It also includes important privacy protections, and makes it clear that the information used to automatically register voters will remain secure.

“America is stronger when more Americans participate in our democracy,” said Leahy. “We are better when our citizens take part in the political process, hold their elected representatives accountable, and voice their opinions on the critical issues facing our country.  We can take a significant step toward fostering greater participation simply by modernizing the way Americans register to vote through nationwide automatic voter registration.”

Eight states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia -- have approved automatic voter registration programs.  A report by the Brennan Center estimated that automatic voter registration could add 50 million eligible voters to the rolls.

Cosponsors of the legislation include Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).

"The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and we should be doing all we can to strengthen this right,” Klobuchar said. “Minnesota has one of the highest statewide voter turnout rates in the country, and our new effort will help ensure that Americans in all our states have their voices heard.”

Durbin said: “Automatic voter registration will allow more Americans to exercise their constitutional right to vote and participate in the political process. Government impacts the lives of every person in our country, and every American eligible to vote should have a say in its direction.”

The Automatic Voter Registration Act has the support of leading civil rights organizations, including the Brennan Center for Justice, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the League of Women Voters, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Text of the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2017 can be found HERE, and a fact sheet about automatic voter registration from the Brennan Center can be found HERE.  A link to Leahy’s floor statement on the introduction of the bill can be found HERE.

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