Georgia, once considered a slam dunk for Republican politicians, reached an amazing feat: nearly every person who meets the voting age requirement in the state is registered to vote. And it’s thanks to one change on a form at the DMV.
In September 2016, a new policy took effect in Georgia, in which drivers obtaining their driver’s licenses at the Department of Motor Vehicles are automatically registered to vote. Prior to the policy, drivers would have to opt-in to being registered, versus now, they have to opt-out of being automatically registered.
Federal data indicates that since that change was made, voter registration rates jumped from 76% in 2016 to 95% in 2020. Most of the new registrations, about 67%, came from this policy change, according to data from the Election Assistance Commission.
November’s election saw 7.2 million active registered voters in Georgia, leaving just 387,000 unregistered age-eligible voters, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Most of these age-eligible unregistered voters, over 265,000 people, couldn’t register to vote because they were incarcerated, on felony probation, or on parole.
Georgia is one of many states with newly-imposed voter registration laws. Voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams tweeted out the challenges that remain for Georgia voters looking to participate in the upcoming midterm election season.
“States (like GA) mix & match obstacles,” she wrote, urging federal lawmakers to pass the For the People Act to prevent election laws that create barriers to the ballot.