Election Day is upon us, which means we have also been blessed (read: haunted) by the cries of overeager volunteers in the Pit, who demand that we fulfill our civic duty by exercising our right to vote. And oftentimes, we tune them out because we’re either too busy or too lazy to take the steps necessary to even register.
Such is the plight of nearly three-quarters of the United States population, who live in states with opt-in voter registration laws.
Let’s face it: registering to vote in North Carolina is a hassle. You have to go out of your way to print out the form and fill it out with your name, address, date of birth, driver’s’ license number, Social Security number, favorite color and current relationship status. Then, once you’ve filled it out, you have to MAIL it in (seriously, who even mails things anymore?) and pray that the Board of Elections doesn’t accuse you of fraud because you accidentally failed to follow the ambiguous and unnecessarily complicated instructions.
In an attempt to increase voter turnout, Oregon, officially nicknamed the Beaver State but best described as America’s hip Aunt Sharon, was the first of several states to implement automatic voter registration (AVR) prior to the 2016 election. The law states that all Oregonians who are eligible to vote will automatically be registered to do so when they procure or renew a driver’s license or state ID card, unless they explicitly indicate otherwise.
Automatic voter registration laws have been shown to significantly increase voter registration and turnout in states where they are implemented. In Oregon, voter turnout increased by 4 percent between 2012 and 2016, the latter of which occurred after AVR was introduced. Meanwhile, national voter turnout between 2012 and 2016 increased by only 1.6 percent. Furthermore, a recent study found that the Beaver State tops the list of easiest states to vote in.