New Poll: Automatic Voter Registration Is A Hit

April 5, 2021

Executive Summary

  • The latest Carolina Forward poll shows broad popular support for automatic voter registration
  • Ending gerrymandering remains a top voting issue across all partisan affiliations
  • Governor Cooper enjoys high marks for job performance and management of the COVID crisis

In the wake of the coordinated misinformation campaigns about voter fraud in the 2020 election, there has been a surge in interest around automatic voter registration. The latest Carolina Forward poll shows that a solid majority of North Carolina voters support adopting automatic voter registration, thus joining nineteen other states plus the District of Columbia in streamlining and securing how voters register. By a whopping 16-point margin, 56% to 40%, North Carolina registered voters support automatic registration – including majorities of Independents and Democrats, and 1 in 4 Republicans.

Automatic voter registration is a simple idea: it makes voter registration “opt-out,” not “opt-in.” Where eligible citizens interact routinely with government agencies, such as the DMV, they are automatically registered to vote or have their information automatically updated, unless they decline. Government agencies can enter or update new voter information electronically, instead of shuffling around paper, which makes the process far more cost-efficient, accurate and secure. Simply put, there is no more question of “are you registered to vote?” If you’re an eligible voter who is a resident of the state, you’re automatically good to go.

For more detail on how automatic voter registration works, The Brennan Center’s full report is the best resource for more information.

There has been a surge in interest in how to make our election system more secure, resilient and trustworthy since even before the 2020 election. Automatic voter registration is a clear win in these areas, as well as for allowing many more eligible voters to more easily exercise their most basic right as American citizens. Senate Bill 364, a bill to move North Carolina to automatic registration, is currently pending in the State Senate, and the legislature would be wise to pass it.

Ending Gerrymandering

Ending gerrymandering in North Carolina continues to be a slam-dunk priority for virtually every constituency in the state. A full two-thirds of North Carolina voters say that ending gerrymandering is an important voting issue to them:

The consistent popularity of ending gerrymandering is almost unparalleled across constituencies. Large majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents all agree that the time has come to end the practice. In a vanishingly rare alignment in this age of political polarization, ending gerrymandering threads the needle: both 55% of “very conservative” respondents and 87% of “very liberal” ones agree. This mirrors broad agreement across other groups as well. Urban, suburban and rural voters all overwhelmingly agree that it’s important to end gerrymandering, as do all age, racial and education groups. In fact, there is not a single group where a majority of respondents did not signal agreement.

Last week, legislators introduced House Bill 437 (the “Fair Maps Act”), which would end gerrymandering by adopting an independent redistricting commission. This would return real governing power to North Carolina’s voters, and remove it from closed-door meetings by party bosses. The legislature should pass this bill without delay.

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