House Rep Cicilline Introduces Automatic Voter Registration Act

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A bill has been proposed by Democratic Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island that would automatically register Americans to vote.

The Automatic Voter Registration Act (H.R. 2694) would “significantly expand ballot access for eligible voters," according to a statement released on Cicilline's website. It would amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to require states to automatically register to vote any person who provides “identifying information” to the State motor vehicle authority.

“Today, too many politicians are trying to make it harder than ever for citizens to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” Cicilline said in a statement on Wednesday. “The Automatic Voter Registration Act will protect the right to vote and expand access for eligible voters across the United States.”

Under the proposed legislation, election officials would receive information on individuals from their local motor vehicle department and they would then send out a notification to the person informing them that they would be registered to vote after 21 days. An individual has the right to opt-out of voter registration within that 21-day window.

"Currently, you have to take an affirmative act to vote and register and as a result of that, a number of people never register and as a consequence don’t have the ability to participate in our elections," Cicilline told The Hill in an interview.

Cicilline believes the passage of this bill will increase voter turnout.

The introduction of Cicilline’s bill comes one week after Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for automatic voter registration while criticizing Republican presidential hopefuls for “systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of citizens from voting.”

The former Secretary of State referred to the current voter registration system as a “relic” and called for change.

“Every young man or young woman in every state in the union should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18 – unless they actively choose to opt-out,” Clinton said at Texas Southern University. “This would have a profound impact on our elections and our democracy.”

Cicilline said his bill has been in the works for many months and was not prompted by Clinton’s speech, but he was “pleased to hear the Secretary reference it in her speech.”

Sources: The Hill, Congressman David Cicilline

Photo Source: Medill DC, kristin_a (Meringue Bake Shop)/Flickr