Twenty states plus the District of Columbia have already implemented Automated Verification & Registration to strengthen thier election infrastructure and streamline the voter registration process. Many other states are exploring the range of benefits that an AVR policy can have in their state. Here are summaries of key elements that are typically included in the most successful and effective AVR policy language:
Effective Policy Structure
Every person who interacts with the DMV or Medicaid by attesting to citizenship as part of their regular transaction, or provides a document demonstrating citizenship, is registered to vote without any action by the citizen at the time of the transaction. Eligible citizens will be provided the opportunity to decline to be registered to vote or choose a political party by returning a postcard sent to them by election officials, or by returning a document declaring the choice to opt out at the agency per instructions provided by the chief elections officials.
Verification of eligibility will take place in the back-end and the agencies will only send records of individuals who have indicated eligibility. The strongest AVR systems rely on information provided at the agency. The automatic system determines eligibility and only transfers records of eligible individuals. Verification in the back-end dramatically decreases the potential for human error either on the part of the agency or the individual voter.
The data transfer is structured so it is electronic between relevant agencies. The electronic transfer of data helps eliminate human error in the voter registration system thus ensuring data accuracy. If a technology upgrade is required it can involve an upfront financial investment, but this generally results in long-term cost savings.
Adequate legal protections that provide against any kind of individual criminal or civil liability in the event that ineligible persons are inadvertently added to the voter rolls. These protections pertain to all people at every stage in the registration process (updates and new registrants). This policy is important both for protecting individuals as well as government agencies from potential costly legal threats. The responsibility to keep the rolls accurate is shared between individuals and the government.
Citizens who are already registered to vote whose address or name is out-of-date will have their information updated automatically and will be notified of the update. Often, agency databases identify individuals who are already registered in real time and avoid time-consuming and confusing interactions.
Citizens who interact with an AVR process and either update or confirm their existing registration will be removed from potential voter purge lists. Registration updates are considered an election activity for the purposes of the NVRA section on purges based on lack of voting and communication with elections officials. In response to recent Supreme Court rulings, AVR can provide states the infrastructure they need to prevent calamitous legal consequences.
Voter Registration data is protected from cyber security threats and potential misuse. Voter registration data will be used for those purposes alone and not shared with unauthorized agencies or entities. No actions are taken that could jeopardize public access to the voter file. As with all electronic systems, voter registration databases should be protected against hacking and potential external cyber threats. States should improve their data security as part of the AVR upgrade.
There will be provisions for persons who are enrolled in an Address Confidentiality Program or who otherwise require their information to remain confidential due to security concerns.