State and DMV sign automatic voter registration pact

Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill and the Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Michael Bzdyra announced today a first-of-its-kind plan to develop a streamlined motor-voter system that will automatically register to vote those eligible citizens who go to DMV for license or state-issued identification card services.

The two agencies also plan a number of other important activities in DMV offices to improve the voter-registration process, which will modernize the state’s execution of the federal ‘motor-voter’ act.

Connecticut will be the first state in the nation to introduce automatic voter registration through this type of agreement. Merrill and Bzdyra hailed all the changes as strong, collaborative action to help eligible residents exercise their right to vote.

Merrill said, “This is a monumental event enhancing voting rights and opportunity in Connecticut, and a continuation of our rigorous efforts to bring new voters onto the rolls. This agreement also puts Connecticut alongside a vanguard of states that are leading the nation in the movement to register every eligible citizen. This is a proud day for our state, and I wish to thank Commissioner Bzdyra and his staff for their commitment.”

“We are very pleased with this agreement knowing that it will help bring more voters on the rolls in Connecticut. We are eager to work with Secretary of the State Merrill and her team on making us a state at the forefront helping every eligible citizen register to vote,” said Bzdyra.

For the past few months, the Secretary of the State's office and DMV have been discussing measures to improve efforts under the National Voter Registration Act, also called the motor-voter law. The 1993 federal act encourages voter registration at DMV offices when eligible citizens seek a driver's license or state-issued ID card. Discussions between the Secretary of the State's office and DMV have focused on the need for broader outreach and efficiency in helping people become voters.

The centerpiece is an innovative new system that would automatically process the voter registration. It will take two years to develop.

The aim is to make voter registration more convenient, efficient and cost-effective, as well as increase participation in our democracy. The agencies will collaborate and share resources to build the system.

In the agreement, executed on May 16, the two agencies also planned immediate, short-term actions. They include a provision for a unified application for licensing and voter registration at DMV offices while the broader automated system is built. Also, the two agencies pledged stronger efforts to promote the motor voter law more widely in DMV offices and through DMV customer outreach. This includes voter registration links in the DMV mobile app for iPhones and Android devices as well as through mailings, information in DMV branch offices and other traditional customer contacts.

In addition, their agreement includes streamlined reporting by the DMV to municipalities of the names of newly registered voters, as well as those making name, address or other changes.