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Elfant advocates for online voter registration

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 by Nora Ankrum

Following the Austin American-Statesman‘s story on Monday reporting that a federal lawsuit had been filed against Texas over its voter-registration practices, Travis County voter registrar Bruce Elfant released a statement Tuesday advocating for a better registration system. The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court, charges that Texas is in violation of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which requires the Department of Public Safety to provide voter registration and renewal services to anyone who is getting (or updating) a driver’s license. The lawsuit highlights a discrepancy in how different groups of voters are treated under Texas’ system. Those who go to the DPS office in person can complete the registration process on-site, but those who use DPS’s website cannot. Although online patrons can start the registration process on the DPS website (by indicating the desire to register and downloading a form), they cannot complete it there. “They think their voter registration is automatic and it is not. They still have to print and mail in a voter registration form in order to register,” said Elfant. This “confusing” system, said Elfant, “can easily be resolved by joining the more than 30 states that currently offer online voter registration.” Online systems, he said, are “proven to be more secure, accurate and far less expensive than our current outdated paper-based process.” Noting that Texas already offers online processes for other transactions – such as the renewal of driver’s licenses and payment of property taxes – Elfant added that “most Texans, especially digital natives, find it hard to believe that a state as big as Texas does not offer online voter registration.”

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