First, H.R. 1 makes same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration a national law. These two methods of increasing citizen participation currently reflect the hodgepodge that is progressive versus regressive state law.
With same-day voter registration, eligible voters can register at the polls on Election Day, which is the same privilege currently afforded by federal law to all U.S. military and other service voters.
With automatic voter registration, eligible voters are automatically registered to vote, unless they opt out, when they are conducting business at government agencies such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (such as obtaining or renewing a driver’s license).
Second, H.R. 1 requires states to offer at least two weeks of early voting, and it mandates that evening hours and weekends be part of that package.
Third, it matters little if a voter can cast her ballot “early” but there is no audit process or method of ensuring that the vote she cast is the vote that is counted. Consequently, H.R. 1 requires that states replace voting machines that have no paper trail and provides incentives for audits.
That said, voting on paper — either via absentee or via a statewide VBM system like those in Colorado, Oregon and Washington state — remains the most secure, transparent and easy way to vote. All states should ditch their expensive, insecure (they’re computers, after all) and quickly out-of-date computerized equipment for vote by mail. There are alternatives for people who need assistance (visual or physical impairments) such as that in use in Washington state.
Learn more about H.R. 1 from the Brennan Center.