Currently, Ohio's registration deadline is 30 days before the election—cutting off voters from participating in the electoral process when they are most likely to be interested in voting, namely, on election day. Not surprisingly, states with same-day voter registration (SDR) have shown increased voter turnout.[i] SDR is a process by which residents who are eligible to vote may register at polling locations on the same day they cast a ballot. Seventeen states including Wyoming, Minnesota, Idaho, Montana, and Iowa currently offer SDR. Washington and Michigan (boo!) will be implementing this policy in 2019. We want this, too.
HOW IT WORKS
Individuals follow the same guidelines for registration as outlined by their state. For SDR, citizens must bring proof of residency with them to their polling location (for example, an updated driver's license or a combination of photo ID and utility bill/bank statement with current address, etc.). New voters can fill out the registration form and then submit their ballot. SDR also allows voters to correct any outdated registration information ahead of casting their ballot enhancing the accuracy of Ohio voting rolls.
In addition to improving voter turnout, SDR allows us to ensure that voters meet eligibility requirements in real-time to be able to vote. If a voter is not eligible or is already registered, this is flagged through verification with pre-existing registries already available. SDR benefits those who are more geographically mobile and who are less likely to register to vote: young people, low-income voters, and active-duty military. SDR can be especially beneficial to voter turnout among minorities.[ii]
SDR allows eligible voters to take part in the election process without sacrificing election security:
It doesn't change who is eligible to vote, just gives those are eligible greater access to the ballot
Proof of identity and residency is still required in order to register
Provisional ballots can be used to verify a voter's application if further confirmation of residency is required
Real-time checks on voter registration or duplicate votes can be conducted via statewide voter databases
MINIMAL ADDITIONAL COST
States that have implemented SDR report that getting these programs up and running requires limited extra costs. When Iowa introduced SDR, for example, the state spent less than $40,000 to implement the program. Additional costs may come from opting for electronic resources necessary to connect to voter databases, as well as additional polling staff. Election officials in multiple states, including Idaho, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming, describe the incremental cost of implementing SDR as "minimal."
[i] In 2012, over 17% of voters in Minnesota and Idaho voted via same-day registration, and four of the top five voter-turnout states offered same-day registration.
[ii] In the 2008 presidential election, for example, African-American voters comprised 36% of SDR voters in North Carolina, despite constituting just 20% of the voting populace.