UPDATED WITH ADDITIONAL DATA AS OF SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
Today, September 27th, is National Voter Registration Day – a day when non-profits, campaigns, and government officials from across the political spectrum join together to encourage everyone to check and update their voter registration, and register to vote if they haven’t already. In just a few years, the organizers of National Voter Registration Day have done a great job of bringing together people who might not agree on many political issues, but are in absolute agreement about one important idea – that our democracy is stronger when more of our citizens participate.
And tech companies are getting into the spirit as well. Yesterday, Google’s doodle encouraged voter registration, and on Friday, September 23rd, Facebook used their megaphone feature to put a banner on the top of American users’ feeds directing them to check their voter registration status or get registered to vote. The banner sent users to www.vote.gov and links people directly to their state’s main voter registration page; in 32 states and DC, that means online voter registration!
Data from the states demonstrates that these efforts are having a tremendous impact. Below is a table with data from 16 states about their online voter registration activity before and after Facebook’s September 23rd megaphone:
Almost every state reporting data saw a massive increase in total online voter registration activity on September 23rd compared to a week earlier, and in nearly every state, these spikes persisted through the weekend, with thousands in each state registering to vote. Rhode Island also saw similar results, with over a third of the total users of its online registration system (live since August 1) coming during the last five days. Incredibly, the 16 states listed above alone accounted for 338,507 online registration transactions on one day – September 23rd – after Facebook encouraged their users to register. On September 26th – the date Google had the voter registration doodle on their home page – several states, including California, Maryland, Minnesota, and Oregon saw another increase in online voter registration activity.
States joining the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) have seen a spike of activity as well as a result of their outreach to eligible but unregistered citizens. New Mexico, for instance, joined ERIC this summer and contacted thousands of these eligible voters, directing them to online registration at around the same time Facebook encouraged voter registration. Since the ERIC mailing went out last week, the state saw over 10,000 online voter registration applications, compared to just over 1,000 applicants during the previous week. Since ERIC has grown from seven states in 2012 to twenty states plus DC today, it’s expected that ERIC states will inform tens of millions of eligible citizens how to register to vote in 2016 alone, with most of those being directed to inexpensive, accurate, and convenient online voter registration.
And the innovations don’t end there. California announced that its much-anticipated, state-of-the-art voter registration database –VoteCal – is live statewide. While this paves the way for pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds, as well as automatic voter registration next year, more immediately it means that voters in California have a new tool to check their voter registration status and get voting information. This is big news in a state with around 10 percent of the US voting population, and congratulations are due to Secretary Padilla, his staff, and all the county election officials and others who made this a reality.
So there’s a lot to celebrate this National Voter Registration Day, and no better way than to confirm your registration and vote!