PIRG (Public Interest Research Group) has just released a 37-page study of voter registration. It recommends that the United States switch to a system in which voters are registered automatically, an idea already in place in Canada. PIRG hopes to eventually have such a bill introduced in Congress.
The study highlights how much tax money is spent now on voter registration, and makes the case that automatic registration would save tax dollars.
The idea will be difficult to implement. There is no single government database that tells who is a citizen and who is not. Also it is not easy, in states which bar ex-felons from registering, to know about that variable. And because 29 states ask voters to choose a party on the voter registration form, even if automatic registration were implemented, there would be extra work involved in handling that question. Also, if the database is based on residence, that leaves the problems of homeless people, and also makes it difficult to administer situations in which some people have more than one residence.