Five years ago when Civic Nebraska first brought online voter registration to the Legislature it was innovative, it was new, it was the forefront of election modernization.
At that point only 8 total states had implemented online voter registration. Last year when Nebraska approved online voter registration, it was up to 20 states. On Tuesday Nebraska joins Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania as the newest states to implement online voter registration. Amid the celebration and excitement over a new tool looms a daunting question: What next?
In 2010 opposition to online voter registration in the Government Committee hearing was focused on the inability to transfer electronic signatures from the DMV to the Secretary of State.
In the last 5 years those technological obstacles have crumbled. In the past 5 years we’ve seen SNAP and public assistance applications go online, parking tickets are paid online, and meters can be paid with a text message. You can order Dominos with a pizza emoji (Did emojis even exist 5 years ago?)
Let’s take the lessons and growing pains we’ve learned from implementing online voter registration and let’s clear the next hurdle. Let’s talk about Election Day Registration, online vote-by-mail requests and Automatic registration.
This past year Oregon passed and begun the process of implementing automatic voter registration. Oregon Motor Voter Act FAQ. In essence, every Oregonian that obtains a driver’s license will be automatically registered to vote. Currently under Motor Voter an individual must opt-in to register. In Oregon they must opt-out. The advancement of technology eases the burden associated with this large transfer of data and the automatic registration eases the burden on the voter.
Both Election Day Registration (EDR) and Online Vote-By-Mail were introduced this past session and again the burden of implementation was cited as the main issue of opposition. Online VBM requests as introduced would utilize the same method as Online Voter Registration to process the request and obtain the individual’s signature and yet a representative from the Secretary of State’s office testified in opposition to the bill.
Technology is continuously improving and other states are taking advantage to modernize their elections, making participation in the democratic process convenient and easy. We appreciate the Secretary of State taking the first step to modernize with the implementation of online voter registration, but we won’t stop pushing for what’s next.