Vermont becomes fourth state to pass automatic voter registration

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin signs voter registration update into law


BURLINGTON, VT – Thursday morning, Governor Peter Shumlin signed automatic voter registration (AVR) legislation into law making Vermont the fourth state to pass such legislation. The new reform could add between 30,000 and 50,000 residents to Vermont’s voter rolls within its first four years by automatically registering eligible Vermonters when they apply for a state driver’s license. The update to Vermont’s registration system is also expected to save money and reduce voter roll inaccuracies that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballot.

“Automatic Voter Registration is a common sense reform that brings our elections into the 21st Century,” said Emma Boorboor, U.S. PIRG Elections Reform Campaign Director. “As we begin to see the success of AVR systems in states like Oregon and California, other states are quickly following suit. Today Vermont residents scored a major victory with registration updates that promise to save money, increase voter roll accuracy, and engage more residents in our democracy.”

Since March of 2015, four states have enacted AVR legislation, including Oregon, California, West Virginia, and now Vermont. The first state to implement AVR, Oregon, is already seeing huge boosts in their role. Numbers released this month show that Oregon has registered 34,410 new voters through the state’s DMV since AVR went into effect there, increasing new registrations by three-fold over previous election cycles.

In February of this year, President Barack Obama delivered a speech in the Illinois’ House Chamber in Springfield, calling on lawmakers there to reduce barriers to voting and enact AVR legislation in their state.

Before heading to Governor Shumlin’s desk, today’s AVR legislation passed Vermont’s Senate and General Assembly in near unanimous votes. The new law will go into effect in July of 2017.

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U.S. PIRG, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety, our financial security, or our right to fully participate in our democratic society.