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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

States with Election Day Registration Led Turnout in ’12

By now everyone should know that early voting was of tremendous benefit to Democrats, and Republicans spent a lot of time, money and effort trying to get rid of it in the 2012 election. Early voting is important for progressive. But so are opportunities for late voting, as well as late voter registration, especially election day voter registration.
States that have some form of election day voter registration include: Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington DC. Connecticut and Rhode Island have Election Day registration only for presidential elections. Only North Dakota has no voter registration requirement at all.
Certified voter turnout figures results in some states will not be released until December or even January, as uncounted absentee and provisional ballots are tallied. But, for the 19 states that have reported their totals, it’s clear that states with election day voter registration still lead the way in boosting turnout. Here are the rankings of the 19 states in terms of “Voter Eligible Population Highest Office Turnout Rate,” according to calculations by Dr. Michael McDonald of George Mason University:
MN (75.7%); NH (70.1); IA (69.); MD (66.2); MI (64.7); FL (63.5); DE (62.7); ND (60.6); LA (60.4); VT (60.4); ID (59.6); SD (59.4); WY (58.9); GA (58.3); RI (58.0); SC (56.6); KY (55.3); AR (50.5); and HI (44.2).
Although Wisconsin is not in McDonald’s data, it’s estimated that WI, which also has election day voter registration, had 70+ percent eligible voter turnout, according to the state’s Government Accountability board. Thus, the four states with the highest turnout of eligible voters all had election day voter registration. However, Amanda Terkel reports that Governor Scott Walker is now proposing to eliminate it in Wisconsin, and citizens groups are organizing to protect it.
Studies by Demos indicate that, In 2004, voter turnout in election day voter registration states was 12 percent higher than states that did not have it and 10-12 percent higher in the ’06 mid-term elections. If there is any voter reform Republicans fear more than early voting, it is election day registration.

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