WASHINGTON, D.C. — In July, Washington, D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D) introduced legislation that would change the voter registration process, virtually eliminating that step for eligible voters. Washington D.C., along with 22 states, already has automatic voter registration, a process that registers voters when they interact with the Department of Motor Vehicles or other designated agencies, except if they choose to opt-out. This is known as “front end” automatic voter registration. As first reported in Bolts, Allen’s Automatic Voter Registration Expansion Amendment Act of 2022 would move the district to a process that resembles “back end” voter registration. A “back end” type of automatic voter registration is currently used in Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Nevada and Oregon, where government agencies automatically register eligible voters with no other steps required. The recently registered voters are only presented with the opt-out option after they have finished meeting with a particular agency, often through a mailer sent to their homes.
Under the proposed legislation, eligible Washington D.C. voters who interact with source agencies would be automatically added to a “preapproved for registration list.” Voters added to this list are notified in case they want to be removed from the list or affiliate with a political party, but otherwise, any individual on this list simply activates their voter registration by showing up to vote or voting by mail. On Friday, Sept. 16, a public hearing will be held on the proposal.