A bill has been introduced to the North Carolina Senate that would establish automatic voter registration at Driver License Offices and college campuses.
Although the bill has received little discussion by lawmakers, supporters say Senate Bill 704 could have an extremely positive impact on election reform in North Carolina.
Orange County Democratic State Senator Valerie Foushee, who is co-sponsoring the bill along with three other Democrats, says that automatic registration would make voting a more inclusive process.
“It just expands the opportunities and the access to the ballot box by being able to register to vote in situations where people don’t normally know that that’s something they can do,” said Foushee.
The legislation states that when applying for a driver license, the clerk would have to ask you if you’d like to register to vote; the same would go for registering for community college or university courses.
One obstacle for this to become a reality would be upgrading the technology to make sure the different agencies would be compatible.
Voter fraud could also stand in its way, as a fail-safe method for insuring the person registering is who they say they are would be needed before this bill could be passed.
“I think part of what would concern some people is that there is an opportunity for a person to commit a felony,” Foushee said. “But the law does state that misrepresenting yourself is a felony, and you can be charged for that.”
Still, similar legislation has been passed in other states, which have seen higher voter turnout.
“That’s what we want in a democracy,” said Foushee, “that every eligible person is registered, and every eligible person has access to the ballot box. For me, that’s the ultimate goal.”
The bill was filed during the January special session of the General Assembly and has been referred to the Rules and Operations committee.