Texans May Be Getting Online Voter Registration
This article has been cross-posted from the Texas Research Institute, our 501(c)(3) affiliate.
Wouldn’t it make more sense if we could register to vote online? Legislation being considered at the Texas Capitol aims to do just that.
Two bills — HB 76 and HB 953 — that would open the door for online voter registration have committee hearings today, and we at Progress Texas couldn’t be more excited about it.
Online voter registration is already the law in 27 states, most recently in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Florida. The idea has caught on in Texas, too -- one of the bills is gaining widespread approval with nearly 70 legislators signed up as co-sponsors, not to mention, several state associations and election administrators.
Despite what some think, online voter registration is safe and secure:
“Texas.gov already uses a secure system to confirm a user’s identity. In order to confirm that a person is who he or she claims to be, Texas.gov checks multiple pieces of information against a Department of Public Safety database, including the person’s:
Driver’s license number;
Last four digits of his or her Social Security Number; and
Driver’s license audit number.
This system is so highly regarded that some local and state agencies use it as an alternative to using a notary.”
Research from the group Texans for Online Voter Registration shows that registering online can actually make voter files more accurate:
“Texas’ current voter registration system jeopardizes the accuracy of voter files.The current system forces county officials to spend time and money hiring temporary middlemen to take information an applicant has already entered on a paper application and re-enter it into an electronic database.Using a middleman to re-enter information makes it more likely that information will be accidentally omitted or misspelled, leading to incomplete and inaccurate voter files.”
The group also shows that Texas’ current voter files are also incomplete and inaccurate - nationally about one in eight registrations is significantly inaccurate or no longer valid. The Secretary of State even points out as many as 1.6 million voter registrations may be inaccurate. Registering online can help fix that:
Online Voter Registration improves voter file completeness and accuracy by:
Cutting out the middleman and allowing applicants to directly enter their personal information for county officials to review
Immediately checking to ensure that an application is complete before it is submitted to county officials
Requiring applicants to meet a higher standard for confirming their identity than they do with paper applications.
Online voter registration is something Texans need, and we’re excited to see these bills get a hearing. We will keep you updated on their progress as they work through the legislative process.
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