June 14, 2022

Hirono, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Make Registering to Vote Easier for All Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined nine of her colleagues in introducing legislation to make registering to vote easier for all Americans. The Register America to Vote Act, led by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would require every state to create a system to register all eligible citizens to vote when they turn 18, and ensure all eligible voters are covered by automatic registration through motor vehicle agencies.

“The freedom to vote is fundamental to our democracy. This bill helps ensure every eligible American has the opportunity to exercise that freedom by making it easier to register to vote,” said Senator Hirono. “With states across the country enacting voter suppression laws and other efforts to limit the right to vote, it’s critical that we do everything in our power to protect voting rights. The Register America to Vote Act will build on the progress states like Hawaii have already made in enacting automatic voter registration, helping to secure the right of all Americans to have a say in our democracy.”

Automatic voter registration is a proven policy, with 22 states – including Hawaii – and the District of Columbia having already authorized or implemented automatic voter registration systems. Last June, Hawaii enacted a law establishing automatic voter registration – it requires a voter registration application as part of the application for an identification card or driver’s license. The Register America to Vote Act would provide more focused assistance to improve Hawaii’s registration system and database security. Hawaii could also be eligible for grants to build up its automatic voter registration efforts.

The Register America to Vote Act would: 

  • Require states to establish a system to automatically register all eligible voters when they turn 18;
  • Ensure all eligible voters are covered by automatic registration through motor vehicle agencies while preserving the option to opt out of registering to vote during their interaction with the agency;
  • Authorize $3 billion in grants for states to implement automatic voter registration; 
  • Allow voters to update their registration in the course of interaction with motor vehicle agencies;
  • Create safeguards against registration of ineligible voters and protections for people who are erroneously registered; and
  • Direct the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop voter database management standards and security policies states can adopt.

Senator Hirono has been a long-time champion of voting rights legislation and protections. At the start of the pandemic, she introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, which ensured that Americans would be able to vote, even in a public health emergency, by expanding early in-person voting and absentee vote-by-mail to all states. In March 2020, she also called on the Senate to pass the For the People Act, which would have expanded voting access for Americans.

Senator Hirono also cosponsored the Native American Voting Rights Act of 2021, which protected the right to vote and ensure equal access to the electoral process for American Indians, Alaska Natives, and voters living on Tribal lands. She is also a cosponsor and strong advocate of the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, and last December, she delivered remarks on the Senate floor urging her colleagues to pass voting rights legislation.

In addition to Senators Hirono and Klobuchar, the legislation was also sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR).

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