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Merrill seeks automatic voter registration at DMV in bid to hike turnout

Carole Mulready, chair of the League of Women Votes of Greater Hartford, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Cheri Quickmire of Common Cause CT. (Photo contributed by the Secretary of the State's office)
Carole Mulready, chair of the League of Women Votes of Greater Hartford, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Cheri Quickmire of Common Cause CT. (Photo contributed by the Secretary of the State’s office)

HARTFORD, Conn. – To boost voter registration, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill is asking legislators to back a plan that would automatically add anyone doing business with the Department of Motor Vehicles to the voter rolls.

Merrill said the concept “breaks fresh ground” and could add as many 400,000 new voters.

The proposal, which would also give residents an option not to register, follows similar efforts underway in California, Oregon and Delaware that show promise at increasing turnout.

“Our democracy works best when more people are able to make their voices heard,” said Cheri Quickmire, executive director of Common Cause in Connecticut, which supports Merrill’s plan.

See the complete story at CT News Junkie.

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3 responses to “Merrill seeks automatic voter registration at DMV in bid to hike turnout”

  1. Stuart Wells

    There is nothing wrong with the Secretary of the State’s proposal, but the devil, as always, is in the details. The DMV will let a customer use any address in Norwalk, commercial or residential, existent or non-existent. We know, because we get a weekly list of all address changes for driver’s licenses. The DMV may not care if you register at your business, or at your “Mail Boxes Etc.” mail box, but we care because you don’t live there and it may be in a different voting district from your real address.
    Voter registration addresses must fit in the street address range list which we maintain in the Conn. Voter Registration system. There are 1250 streets in Norwalk and we have established one or more ranges of residential addresses for each street. For example, Connecticut Avenue has many businesses, and also a few buildings here and there with apartments.
    If you list an address on a voter registration application that is not on our list, we will check to see what building, if any, is at that address before accepting the application. We look at the records in the Assessor’s office, we check Google Maps, and even do a field inspection, (i.e. drive by the address on the way home), if necessary.
    One of the problems with the current system is that we are unable to view, or get a copy, of a person’s driver’s license application to see if the DMV has made a typo, or to check slight differences in how someone lists their name. This latter is important because we get driver’s license numbers that don’t pass verification with the DMV but we can’t tell if this is because of a possibly fraudulent registration, or just because the person is “Anthony” in the DMV files and “Tony” in the voting files.
    These problems are important because they impact the accuracy of the voter records. There will be some modest cost increases as well, such as for postage, but cost should not be a “deal-breaker”.
    One thing we would like is the authority to obtain the names, addresses and birth dates of Norwalk high school seniors each spring. We could contact them by mail, and send them registration applications, etc. They can register while still 17 years old, if they will be 18 by election day. This would certainly yield increased voter participation, possibly more than the Secretary’s proposal.
    Additionally, if “universal” selective service registration (i.e. for 18 year old men AND WOMEN) was implemented by the Federal Government, this registration could double as voting registration, or, at least, the names could be sent to official voter registration agencies to contact all 18 year olds, and send them registration applications. This would put the selective service information to an additional good use — currently it is only used for military recruitment, as there is no draft.
    Stuart Wells, Democratic Registrar of Voters

  2. Karen Doyle Lyons

    I tested the DMV in Wethersfield to see if I could verify some problems people were discussing. I went to the desk at the entry and told ” no voter registration cards given out now”. I asked to go upstairs to the main level. This was mid October and the deadline for registration had not passed.
    I approached a lady with a badge and asked ” where can get a voter registration card?” the answer was stand in the information line. Which I did. When I reached the attendant she ” let me find one.” behind the desk she found a card and gave it to me.
    I went to a desk and completed the card and the receipt. I then went back to the Information desk and waited in line. I handed her the card and was told she could not take it any longer. I explained it was not yet the deadline.
    I spoke to another person who showed me a poster that said after October 3rd the DMV and AAA would no longer take registrations…. What….. Why……
    The SOTS doesn’t have a clue as to this happening or she would not be proposing they take on another project.
    Please note….. If this was not a test the person going to the DMV would have been disenfranchised from voting. Wake up……..
    I still have the poster that cut off persons from registering to vote… Go figure…….

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