In an era when so much official business is conducted by computer — everything from paying taxes to renewing library books can be done on line — registering to vote via the Internet is a logical next step.
As county Clerk-Recorder Julie Rodewald points out, online registration would increase voter turnout and make the registration process run more smoothly, especially during the busy final weeks leading up to elections.
It also has the potential to save substantial money. In some counties in Arizona, costs decreased from 83 cents per registration to just 3 cents following implementation of online registration.
Another plus: Online registration helps boost participation by younger voters, leading to a more diverse electorate.
According to a joint study by UC Berkeley and the University of Washington, voters who registered via the Internet in Washington and Arizona — the first two states to enact online registration —tended to be much younger than those who registered in person.
What’s more, young voters who registered on line were far more likely to turn out on Election Day than young people who registered “offline.”
California isn’t scheduled to introduce online registration until at least 2015, but if a bill by state Sen. Leland Yee passes, individual counties would be able to implement in time for the 2012 election.
So far, the only downside we’ve heard is a potential for fraudulent registrations.
Certainly, the issue of security would have to be thoroughly studied before San Luis Obispo County signed on to the system.But given the numerous advantages to online voter registration —and the confidence expressed by Rodewald — we believe San Luis Obispo County should seriously explore online registration as an option for 2012, should it become available.