Voter Registration Application

By SAM HANANEL Center for American Progress

TALLAHASSEE – A new report from the Center for American Progress to be released Wednesday, July 11, finds that Florida could boost voter turnout by more than 570,000 if the state adopted new policies that reduce barriers to voting and make voting more convenient.

The report finds that Florida could see more than 570,000 new voters just by adopting automatic voter registration (AVR). Thousands more could participate in elections if the state approved versions of same day voter registration and restored voting rights to formerly incarcerated people. Roughly 72 percent of Florida’s registered voters participated in the 2016 elections.

Ahead of this November’s mid-term elections, the report examines the problem of low voter participation in America, including structural barriers that keep Americans from having their voices heard.

Overall, 92 million eligible Americans did not vote in the 2016 elections and 143 million eligible people didn’t vote in the 2014 mid-terms.

Of the policies considered in the report, Florida offers preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, online voter registration, noexcuse absentee voting, and early voting. By adopting other pro-voter policies in addition to automatic voter registration, Florida could significantly increase voter participation.

For example, more than 478,000 additional people could have voted in 2016 in Florida if the state offered same-day voter registration. The report recommends that Florida adopt AVR, SDR, and automatically restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people upon release from prison. It also suggests that Florida consider the feasibility of using vote at home with voting centers, which provides voters flexibility and can make voting more convenient.

Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington are among the best states when it comes to adopting policies that help turn out more voters, the report found. States with the fewest voter-friendly policies include Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.

Other projections in the report:

• An additional 4.8 million people nationwide could have voted in 2016 if all states offered same-day voter registration

• Online voter registration systems in every state could have boosted 2016 election turnout nationwide by 536,000 voters

• Early voting procedures in all states could have increased 2016 turnout by 789,500 voters.

These and other pro-voter policy reforms, and elimination of voter suppression tools, can help solve the problem of low voter participation. With a pro-voter system, the millions of Americans missing from our political system can exercise their power at the polls, resulting in a more representative and responsive government that works for all Americans. For example, the report finds that implementing AVR in all 50 states could result in more than 22 million newly registered Americans in just the first year.

Sam Hananel is Associate Director of Media Relations, Center for American Progress