Congressman Introduces Bill That Would Automatically Register Individuals To Vote

| by Nathaly Pesantez

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) is the sponsor behind a bill to expand ballot access for eligible voters across the country.

The Automatic Voter Registration Act, introduced on June 9th, asks for states to automatically register eligible individuals who present identifying documents before state motor vehicle authorities.

Under Cicilline’s bill, once a motor vehicle agency receives information from an individual, it must send the information to a state election official, unless the individual chooses to opt out of the voter registration process.

The AVRA seeks to amend the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which grants people voter registration opportunities at State motor vehicle agencies.

The new bill’s automatic registration feature holds states much more accountable over their constituents for voter registration.

“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 June 10th statement.

Last May, a lawsuit was filed against Ohio for enacting voter registration laws that purportedly burden African-Americans, Latinos and young people, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The lawsuit claims that the changes to Ohio’s state voting laws were designed to hurt “core Democratic constituencies.”

In the same month, a voting rights lawsuit was brought against Wisconsin, which claimed that changes to the state’s voting laws since 2011 targeted Democratic voters, reports The New York Times.

85 percent of all eligible voters would be registered under the Automatic Voter Registration Act, Cicilline told ThinkProgress.

Rep. Steve Israel (NY-03) is one of several supporters of Cicilline’s proposed bill.

“Our democracy is based on the principle that every citizen deserves a voice and vote, and that is best served when voting is easy and accessible,” said Israel in a statement.

Cicilline’s bill is backed by 42 members of the House of Representatives, among them several powerful Democratic representatives, according to The Hill.

Sources: The Hill, The New York Times, ThinkProgress, The Columbus Dispatch, Congress.gov, Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) Press Office

Photo Credit: Kelly Taylor via Flickr