September 20, 2022

On National Voter Registration Day, Wyden, Merkley Co-sponsor Legislation to Make Registering to Vote Easier for All Americans

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley joined with colleagues today on National Voter Registration Day to co-sponsor two pieces of legislation that would make it easier for Americans to register to vote and to know their registration status.

The Same Day Voter Registration Act would require states to offer same-day registration at polling locations on Election Day and during early voting. The Stop Automatically Voiding Eligible Voters Off Their Enlisted Rolls in States (SAVE VOTERS) Act would prohibit states from removing people from their voting rolls unless the state has obtained objective, reliable evidence that a voter is ineligible to vote and establishes notification requirements once a voter is removed. These bills were included as part of the Freedom to Vote Act, voting rights legislation led by U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and supported by Wyden, Merkley and all Democratic senators.

“A vibrant and thriving democracy in our country needs a voter registration system that encourages participation,” Wyden said. “These bills achieve that goal by removing outdated and unjust roadblocks that limit the opportunities for Americans to cast a ballot for the candidate of their choice and to weigh in on local and state measures that directly affect their lives.”  

“Voting is at the heart of our democracy, yet Americans continue to face voter suppression that makes it harder for people to engage in the process, especially when it comes to registering and staying registered to vote,” said Senator Merkley. “Creating same-day registration and prohibiting the purging of eligible voters will help protect every American’s opportunity to cast a vote no matter where they live in the country.”

The Same Day Voter Registration Act would:

·             Require states to offer same day registration at polling locations on Election Day and during any early voting period;

·             Require states to offer same day registration at all polling places by the 2026 general election, but create a waiver process to give states until the 2028 general election to comply if earlier compliance would be impracticable.

·             Mandate that states have at least one location per 15,000 registered voters with same day registration by the 2024 general election; and

·             Ensure that centralized same day registration locations are reasonably located to serve the voting population equitably. 

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the Same Day Voter Registration Act introduced by Klobuchar is cosponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

The SAVE VOTERS Act would:

·             Amend the National Voter Registration Act to prohibit states from removing people from voting rolls unless the state has obtained objective and reliable evidence that a person is ineligible to vote. The legislation would clarify that failure to vote or respond to election mail would not constitute objective and reliable evidence of a voter’s ineligibility to vote;

·             Allow election officials to use state records to remove voters who have died or permanently moved out of the state;

·             Require election officials to send a notice explaining the grounds for removal within 48 hours of removing voters from the rolls and provide public notice within 48 hours after any general program to remove voters; and

·             Revise the voting procedure for a voter who failed to report a change of address by allowing a voter who moved within a state to vote at the polling place of the voter's current address or at a central location in the jurisdiction of the local voter registration office.

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the Save Voters Act introduced by Klobuchar is cosponsored by Markey, Warren, Casey, Smith, Van Hollen, Blumenthal, Gillibrand, Sanders, Hirono, Booker, Murphy, Kaine, Menendez, and King.

Both bills are endorsed by Democracy 21, Transparency International U.S., End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund, Common Cause, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, 20/20 Vision DC, Voices for Progress, and League of Women Voters.