ATLANTA (AP) - Georgians are now being offered paperless voter registration options that Secretary of State Brian Kemp expects to save time and money.
Kemp was at a meeting with state election and voter registration officials in Augusta on Monday when he announced the launch of the Web-based registration programs. Georgia lawmakers drafted regulations allowing online voter registration in 2012.
“We did this because Georgians deserve to be able to register to vote or change their information with as much ease as possible,” Kemp said in a statement. “This not only will provide benefits to the voter, but also for all 159 Georgia counties.”
More than a dozen states now offer online registration and a handful have passed legislation allowing Web-based programs but have yet to launch them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
It’s unclear how much money the Web-based systems might help Georgia county election boards save, but NCSL program manager Wendy Underhill said a study of Arizona’s online system showed that processing online registrations cost about 3 cents each while paper applications cost about 83 cents apiece.
“I think basically states are finding that there are savings but it takes time to see it,” Underhill said, adding that more people using online registration options would likely translate to more savings over time.
A 2010 study funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts also found that voters who registered online in two states appeared to turn out at higher levels in the 2008 election than those who used paper forms.
The University of Washington and the University of California, Berkley, studied online voter registration in Washington and Arizona and found that most people who used the Web-based registration options were relatively young. The study found that 93 percent of Arizona voters under 34 who registered online turned out to vote in 2008, compared with 73 percent of younger voters who registered using paper forms.
Researchers in both states also found, however, that many voters were unaware online registration options existed, and suggested that simple information campaigns could help raise public awareness.
Despite increasing numbers of people instinctively using the Internet and mobile devices to run errands, no state that has authorized online registration has replaced paper forms with the Web-based option, Underhill said.
Georgia voters with a valid state driver’s license may access online registration through the “My Voter Page” on the Secretary of State’s website. Android mobile users can now access the “GA Voter” application, which is expected to launch on the Apple platform later this week.
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