CTCL Brings Together Election Officials and Other Experts to Discuss Voter Registration Modernization

Twelve states and the District of Columbia have already approved automatic voter registration, and 20 states have introduced automatic registration proposals in 2018, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

But how do these new voter registration modernization policies impact the workload and processes of local election officials?

To answer this question, CTCL brought together local election officials and other experts for a 1-day workshop in Chicago on May 11. The workshop was facilitated by the Center for Civic Design.

The goal of the workshop was to develop a set of lessons learned for local election officials tackling the effects of voter registration modernization, taking into account different perspectives in various policy frameworks.

To help us draft our lessons learned, we listened to state case studies and discussions about the areas of election administration that voter registration affects. We recognized that every state's implementation is at a different point, but there's something to learn from everyone's unique experience and perspective.

Participants came from Colorado, Illinois, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and California. They included:

·    State and local election officials

·    A DMV administrator

·    Advocates and researchers

We kicked off the workshop by jumping into research about the success of voter registration modernization in places like Colorado and Virginia.

Then the heart of the workshop was built around state case studies, group discussion questions, and of course, lots of sticky notes!

Workshop attendees view a wall of sticky notes before voting.

Workshop attendees view a wall of sticky notes before voting.

By the end of the day, these colorful sticky notes were organized on the wall and voted on by attendees. This exercise allowed us to zoom in on the top issues for election officials who are responsible for implementing new voter registration policies.

One of the lessons learned from the workshop focused on having good relationships between election offices and DMV offices.

Norelys Consuegra, Deputy Director of Elections with the Rhode Island Secretary of State, called attention to the importance of partnerships when managing new voter registration processes. She said, “Our goal is for people to really care about elections. We have a great working relationship with the DMV. That’s a big part of AVR.”

Another key lesson was the challenge of communicating the new policy to different audiences like legislators, advocates, and voters.

Overall, the group expressed a positive experience with voter registration modernization -- it saves local election offices and the DMV time and money.

For next steps, CTCL will be collecting additional data from election officials and DMV administrators. We’ll use the lessons learned from the workshop and additional site visits to produce 2 webinars and a tool in the Election Toolkit later this summer. These free resources on best practices will benefit local election officials who are rolling out an update to their voter registration process.

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