Voting is a fundamental right that all citizens of the United States have. But before you can cast your ballot, you have to register. Over 40 states have implemented or passed legislation that would let people easily register to vote online. Rep. Justin Boyd, R-Fort Smith, has filed HB1517, which would add Arkansas to that growing list.
As of 2018, only 58.5% of eligible voters actually registered to vote, meaning around 42% of the state has yet to register. Online voter registration makes it easier for people to register, and also encourages turnout during elections. A study of Georgia’s online voter registration system found that around 71% of people who registered online turned out to vote, compared with 48% and 52% of those registering by mail or through a state agency. That’s a huge difference.
On top of making the process to register to vote easier, it also has a fiscal impact. According to a case study conducted in 2010, Arizona, the first state to implement online voter registration in 2002, experienced a reduction in per-registration costs from 83 cents per paper registration to 3 cents per online registration, meaning it saves taxpayer dollars.
We’ve seen restrictive voter bills filed during this legislative session, but Boyd is looking to expand options for Arkansans with HB 1517. Expanding our voter registration system is the first step we need to take to bring about a more inclusive democracy.