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Delaware's about to join 19 other states making it easier to register to vote

A bill on automatic voter registration has passed in the Delaware Senate.

By Emily Singer - March 31, 2021
People register to vote in Arizona

President Joe Biden’s home state is on the brink of expanding voting rights after the Democratic-controlled state Senate passed an automatic voter registration bill on Tuesday.

The bill, which if signed into law would mandate that eligible unregistered adult citizens be automatically registered to vote any time they interacted with the Department of Motor Vehicles, was passed by a party-line vote. It now heads to the Democratic-controlled state Assembly.

Nineteen states plus the District of Columbia already use AVR, most often through a state’s department of motor vehicles. People can opt out of being registered if they wish.

The use of AVR has led millions of new voters to be registered, according to analysis by FiveThirtyEight, which also found that AVR increased voter turnout.

Voting rights experts at the Brennan Center for Justice also say that AVR “keeps voter rolls more accurate by creating a constant stream of updates between registration agencies and election officials and by reducing the odds of mistakes caused by processing paper registration forms by hand.”

It’s why voting rights proponents back the policy.

AVR is one of the key policy changes contained in H.R. 1, the sweeping government and election reform bill House Democrats passed on March 3, which makes mandatory the implementation of AVR in the states.

Republicans are against the measure, baselessly saying it will lead people who are ineligible to vote to be registered.

“The bill would force states to adopt … automatic voter registration for any individual listed in state and federal government databases, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles and welfare offices, ensuring duplicate registrations and that millions of illegal immigrants are quickly registered to vote,” Mike Pence wrote in an op-ed earlier this month, in which he also voiced support for those who claim without evidence that the 2020 election was marred by fraud.

Politifact rated the comment false, noting, “Pence used flawed logic to make his claim, and he ignored steps offered in H.R. 1 to ensure legal registrations by eligible citizens. Voters would continue to attest to their eligibility, including citizenship, when they register to vote. The penalties for a noncitizen who votes or registers to vote can include deportation, incarceration or fines.”

The Delaware Senate’s passage of the AVR bill comes as GOP-controlled state legislatures are working to make it harder to vote by introducing and passing voter-suppression bills.

Republican Geoff Duncan, the lieutenant governor of Georgia, whose GOP-run Legislature just passed a voter-suppression law, chastised his own party for its efforts to restrict the right to vote.

“Republicans don’t need election reform to win, we need leadership,” Duncan said during an appearance March 14 on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I think there’s millions of Republicans waking up around the country that are realizing that Donald Trump’s divisive tone and strategy is unwinnable in forward-looking elections. We need real leadership, we need new — new focus, a GOP 2.0 that includes moderates in the middle, to get us to the next election cycle.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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