North Carolina Could Boost Voter Turnout by More than 225,000, The Problem of Low Voter Participationby Center for American Progress July 11, 2018
Washington – In November, North Carolinians will decide via a ballot measure whether the state will require voter ID for future elections, only two years after the state’s old voter ID law was struck down by a federal court for targeting African Americans. But a new report finds that the state could be encouraging more eligible Americans to vote by adopting new policies to reduce barriers and make voting more convenient.
The report from the Center for American Progress found that North Carolina could see more than 225,000 additional voters by implementing automatic voter registration. Thousands more could participate in elections if the state same day voter registration and online registration.
Ahead of this November’s mid-term elections, the report examines the problem of low voter participation in America, including structural barriers that keep Americans from having their voices heard. Overall, 92 million eligible Americans did not vote in the 2016 elections and 143 million eligible people didn’t vote in the 2014 mid-terms.
Of the policies considered in the report, North Carolina offers pre-registration of 16- and/or 17-year-olds, no-excuse absentee voting, and early voting. By adopting other pro-voter policies in addition to automatic voter registration, North Carolina could significantly increase voter participation. For example, more than 238,000 additional people could have voted in 2016 in North Carolina if the state offered same-day voter registration. The report recommends that North Carolina adopt AVR, SDR, online voter registration, and automatically restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated people upon release from prison. It also suggests that North Carolina consider the feasibility of using vote at home with voting centers, which provides voters flexibility and can make voting more convenient.
Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, Utah, California, Oregon and Washington are among the best states when it comes to adopting policies that help turn out more voters. States with the fewest voter-friendly policies include Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, South Dakota, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Texas.
“Strong voter participation is the foundation of a strong and responsive democracy,” said North Carolina State Sen. Ben Clark. “You can’t have one without the other.”
Other projections in the report:
- Restoring voting rights to formerly incarcerated people in all 50 states would have led to more than 914,000 additional voters in 2016, including 13,000 in North Carolina
- Online voter registration systems in every state could have boosted 2016 election turnout nationwide by 536,000 voters—more than 68,000 in North Carolina, alone
- An additional 4.8 million people could have voted in 2016 if all states offered same-day voter registration
- Early voting procedures in all states could have increased 2016 turnout by 789,500 voters
These and other pro-voter policy reforms, and elimination of voter suppression tools, can help solve the problem of low voter participation. With a pro-voter system, the millions of Americans missing from our political system can exercise their power at the polls, resulting in a more representative and responsive government that works for all Americans. For example, the report finds that implementing AVR in all 50 states could result in more than 22 million newly registered Americans in just the first year.
Read the report: “Increasing Voter Participation in America: Policies to Drive Participation and Make Voting More Convenient,” by Danielle Root and Liz Kennedy.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-478-6327.
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”