Florida Could Have Online Voter Registration In 2016

Jan 23, 2015

Escambia County supervisor of elections, David Stafford
Credit escambiavotes.org

Florida State Senator Jeff Clemens is proposing creation of an online voter registration system, in time for the 2016 elections.

Clemens, a Democrat from Lake Worth, wants the state Division of Elections to establish a secure website, which would accept voter-registration applications beginning  January 1, 2016. Senate Bill 228 is one of the top priories of the Florida Association of County Elections Supervisors.

Escambia County’s David Stafford says currently, one wishing to register can complete an online application, which is transmitted to the supervisor of elections. But the applicant must then print out the document, sign it, and mail it to the elections office.

“The concept is that if an individual is already in the drivers’ license office database, then they would access the online voter registration tool,” Stafford said. “Which would then link up to their driver’s license information. Then they would complete that process and it could done fully online.”

That would be aimed at confirming the names and birth dates of potential voters. Upon confirmation, the data and digital signatures would be sent to the local supervisors offices.

The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) is a non-profit organization that helps states improve voter roll accuracy, and increase access to voter registration. Eleven states and the District of Columbia have joined since its formation by the non-partisan Pew Charitable Trusts in 2012.

More states are projected to join ERIC this year and beyond. FLorida's supervisors of elections consider adding Florida to that number a priority for the upcoming legislative session  which would enable the state to share voter statistics with the other member states.

“It goes through and uses different sources of information to identify potentially duplicate voters,” said Stafford. “Someone who may be registered in more than one state. And perhaps equally importantly, identifies potential deceased voters.”

Members of the state Association of Supervisors of Elections have been in Tallahassee, meeting with lawmakers on SB 228 and joining ERIC. Escambia’s David Stafford says the initial feedback has been “very good.”