Yesterday, Vermont became the 14th state to pass Election Day Registration (the 15th jurisdiction, including the District of Columbia).
The new law will take effect January 1, 2017. That means that for the 2016 presidential election (and all local elections before then) voters will need to register by the Wednesday before Election Day. Vermont joins California and Hawaii, which have both passed EDR legislation but have not yet put it into practice.
In signing the bill, Governor Peter Shumlin noted, “Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and we should do everything in our power to help more Vermonters exercise this critical right. Our state and country benefit when more citizens take part in our democracy. This legislation will help increase participation, allow more Vermonters to engage with the political process, and strengthen our democratic institutions.”
Election Day Registration is linked to higher voter turnout. In 2014, seven of the top 10 turnout states offered Election Day Registration, while none of the bottom 10 turnout states used it. On average, states with EDR had turnout that was 12 points higher than states without EDR.