Automatic voter registration comes to Vermont

For those (like Jon Margolis of VTDigger) who do not believe in the possibility of positive changes in the electoral process, Vermont now has a powerful rejoinder:

Automatic Voter Registration.

While other states are busy finding ways to circumvent the inconvenience of democracy by disenfranchising more and more people, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law H.458, which automatically registers to vote any driver in the state who obtains a valid driver’s license.

A measure so simple even a child might suggest it, automatic voter registration tied to driver’s licenses has only so far been adopted in Oregon, California and West Virginia (!)…and now Vermont.

At the signing, Governor Shumlin had this to say about the significance of the bill and the key role that Secretary of State Jim Condos has played in advocating for its adoption:

“While states across the country are making it harder for voters to get to the polls, Vermont is making it easier by moving forward with commonsense polices that remove unnecessary barriers and increase participation in our democracy,” said Gov. Shumlin. “I would like to thank Secretary Condos who has long championed important electoral reforms to help more Vermonters exercise this fundamental right to vote.”

To which Secretary Condos responded:

“As Vermont’s Secretary of State, I believe voting is a sacred right – one we must protect and encourage by removing unnecessary barriers. Automatic Voter Registration saves time and money, increases the accuracy of our statewide voter checklist, curbs the potential for fraud, and protects the integrity of our elections,” said Secretary Condos. “AVR saves time and money, increases the accuracy of our statewide voter checklist, curbs the potential for fraud, and protects the integrity of our elections.”

The most progressive state in the Union, Vermont already enjoys the distinction of being among the states with the highest rate of voter registration, per capita; and has permitted same-day voter registration since 2015.

Even though Automatic Voter Registration will not come into effect until 2017; when it does, it is expected to increase the volume of new voter registrations by 30,000-50,000 within the first four years of its adoption.

Now that really IS change we can believe in.

 

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

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