Vermont has become the 14th state in the country to adopt an “Election Day Registration” statute that allows eligible voters to cast a ballot on the same day they register to vote.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the same-day voter registration bill into law back in 2015, but it didn’t take effect until Jan. 1 of 2017. Secretary of State Jim Condos says the law will apply to all local and statewide elections in the future, and that prospective voters will be able to register to vote at the polling stations where they go to cast a ballot.
“I’m proud to live in a state that celebrates this democratic process while increasing access to the ballot in a time when many states are moving in the other direction,” Condos said in a statement. “We are sending a clear message to all eligible Vermont voters that civic engagement is a fundamental part of our Vermont way of life.”
Shumlin said at the bill-signing ceremony in 2015 that states that adopted same-day voter registration saw voter participation jump by 7 to 14 percent.
“In years past we have received emails and phone calls from citizens who had missed the deadline to register, and were dismayed that they would not have a chance to participate in our democratic process,” Vermont Director of Elections Will Senning said in a statement. “Implementing Election Day Registration will remove unnecessary barriers for busy, hard-working Vermonters, ensuring that their right to vote is protected.”
The first election to fall under the new guidelines takes place on Town Meeting Day, this March.