Testimony in Support of Same Day Registration in West Virginia

Testimony in Support of Same Day Registration in West Virginia

January 9, 2012
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Benefits of Same Day Registration

Same Day Registration Increases Voter Turnout

 
States with SDR have historically seen average turnout rates that are 10 to 12 percentage points higher that non-SDR states. They led the nation by 7 percentage points in the high-turnout 2008 presidential election, and nearly 6 percentage points in the 2010 midterm elections.4 The five states with the highest turnout in the last presidential election – Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, and Iowa – were all SDR states. All told, over 1.5 million Americans were able to participate in the historic 2008 presidential election because of Same Day Registration.
 
Same Day Registration’s potential for increased voting is due to the fact that it removes one of the chief obstacles to voter participation: pre-election voter registration deadlines. Voting rights experts agree that pre-election registration deadlines have contributed to lower turnout among eligible voters. While these early deadlines may have served some legitimate public purpose in an earlier era, the experience of Same Day Registration states shows them to be unnecessary today. Nearly a dozen states accept registrations after the registration period closes in West Virginia.
 
Pre-election day voter registration deadlines are particularly unjustified in our highly mobile society. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that almost 25 million voting age individuals changed residences between 2010 and 2011, representing over 8 percent of the nation’s population. Americans who change addresses can easily find themselves unable to vote in their new election districts. They fail to re-register to vote or update their voter registration records in time to cast a ballot on Election Day. In fact, recent movers have been estimated to represent about 43 percent of all non-voters.
 
Same Day Registration solves the problem. Those who move can simply register anew in their new voting districts on Election Day or on the days before, and cast a ballot.