Thirty-eight states including Alaska and Vermont already let voters register online, but state Sen. Regina Birdsell, a Republican, said it was beyond the resources of New Hampshire officials. “They just don’t have the bandwidth to do it,” Birdsell said.
We told you on Tuesday about a slew of new restrictive voting laws being pushed by states (NPR followed up today). But some state lawmakers and officials are finding a different way to block the vote: by stymieing bills aimed at increasing voting access.
In New Mexico, a House panel rejected a bill that would have allowed for same-day voter registration during the early voting period, which runs until the weekend before Election Day. Currently, New Mexicans must register 28 days before Election Day. The state has among the lowest turnout rates in the nation.
State Rep. Debbie Rodella, a Democrat, said it’s already easy enough to register. “My goodness, it seems there’s so many different ways for a person to register, if they want to,” Rodella said. She joined three Republicans in voting to kill the measure.
Meanwhile, in Nebraska, Secretary of State John Gale, a Republican, is fighting an effort to establish automatic voter registration (AVR), in which voters are automatically registered when they do business with the DMV, unless they opt out. Six states have adopted the idea in recent years, and experts like those at the Brennan Center for Justice say it has the power to dramatically expand access to voting.
Gale’s deputy, Colleen Byelick, testified Thursday that the plan would flood the voter registration system with ineligible or duplicate registrations. That hasn’t been a problem so far in states that have enacted AVR. Without much trouble, they’ve set up systems that filter out ineligible or duplicate registrations before they’re added to the rolls.
And in New Hampshire, a more modest reform also is meeting opposition. A bill that would allow voters to register online was voted down Thursday by Republicans on party lines.