Automatic Voter Registration Seen As 2016 Issue

The Huffington Post is reporting that iVote, a voting rights group is making automatic voter registration its centerpiece election reform proposal for 2016. Hillary Clinton has already embraced the idea and in March, Oregon became the first state in the nation to enact it into state law.

iVote plans on creating campaigns to enact automatic voter registration laws in states nationwide, including swing states crucial to next year’s presidential election. The group plans to spend six to seven figures on the campaign.

While automatic registration supporters say the goal of the legislation is to keep young voters, students and working families who move frequently from losing their right to vote, Republicans say such legislation endangers voters’ privacy. Republicans also say that voter registration should be the voters’ responsibility, rather than that of the government, suggesting that automatic registration would make voting too easy.

It remains to be seen whether iVote will become a significant player in a voting rights landscape that already includes multiple advocacy organizations. The group’s focus on electing Democratic secretaries of state wasn’t successful in last year’s midterm elections as the four candidates the organization backed all lost to Republicans.

The group may find that their financial help is welcome in states like New Jersey, where legislators and progressive groups are considering putting a package of voting access measures, including automatic registration, on the ballot as a constitutional amendment in November 2016 if Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoes the measures, as he is expected to.

Manhattan Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh introduced an automatic voter registration bill in 2011. This year, Queens State Senator Leroy Comrie and Rochester Assemblyman  David Gantt sponsored legislation modeled after the Oregon law.

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