AVR: Small step with a big impact

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Last week, representatives from our national partner, the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, joined us at the Nebraska Capitol. Here to discuss automatic voter registration (AVR), CSME staff joined in on meetings with senators & staff and co-hosted a “lunch & learn” for senators and staff.

Introduced by Senator Tony Vargas of Omaha, LB 290 takes Motor Voter to the next logical step – moving from an opt-in to an opt-out. Unlike the Oregon model, Nebraska is looking at a “point of service model”, providing the opportunity for an individual to opt-out during the visit but no longer letting the individual ignore the question about voter registration. Currently, a Nebraskan applying for or renewing their driver’s license can simply skip over the voter registration question.

Sen. Tony Vargas explains why he supports automatic voter registration and introduced LB 290.
Sen. Tony Vargas explains why he supports automatic voter registration and introduced LB 290.

The importance of the opt-out lies in the data collected. Under DMV privacy rules, data collected at the DMV can only be shared with other agencies under specific circumstances and for county election officials that is only when someone opts-in to registering to vote. So many Nebraskans skip the question, believing they are already registered or desperate to escape the DMV, meaning that vital data updating their residence address or confirming they still live at that address never makes it to the county election office.

The integrity of our elections rely on good data, under LB 290 renewals and updates would be automatically shared with election officials and help maintain accurate lists. This small common sense update to our registration process ensures that only eligible US citizens are able to cast votes, strengthening the security of our voting systems while preserving access to democracy for all eligible voters.

To learn more about AVR in other states and Nebraska’s proposal, check out our policy paper AVR in Nebraska (LB 290).

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