Making leaps and bounds: Sec. of state establishes online voting registration

Forget the traditional methods of voter registration requiring paper, pen and envelope. As of Feb. 2, 2016, citizens of the state of Alabama can now register to vote online. Alabama has joined a list of 33 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, that have collectively made progressive efforts to ease the process of civic engagement.

The requirements for online registration are as follows:

You must live in the state of Alabama.

You must be at least 18 years of age on or before Election Day.

You cannot be barred from voting by reason of a disqualifying felony conviction.

You cannot have been judged "mentally incompetent" in a court of law.

Most states have experienced a reduction in preregistration costs. Arizona, for example, has seen a significant spending decrease on registration forms. Originally spending about 83 cents per paper registration form, the cost to register electronically is only about 3 cents. Granted the startup cost to establish this electronic system is rather expensive, beginning around $250,000, but the investment is well worth it in the long run.

Not only is this electronic method cheaper, but it is also provides a more accessible option for those who are physically impaired. Indiana has gone the extra mile to provide text-to-speech software for users with visual impairments or reading challenges. This method has also appeared to be increasingly popular with younger adults, as well as students; increasing voter turn-out amongst millennials.

For those who are concerned about the security of confidential information, have no fear. Essentially, you are submitting the same amount of information, just electronically. Each state has their own validation method; however, most tend to simply compare the information submitted online to the same information the individual provided upon receiving their driver’s license. A signature will already be on record with the state, and that same signature serves as the signature on record for voting. A valid photo identification will still be required at the polling place to verify one’s identity. If for some reason the information doesn’t correlate, it is sent off for further review. There has yet to be a fraud or security breach known to date for this electronic method of registration. Most systems additionally require users to complete a “captcha” box, which consists of images that computers are unable to decode.

Thanks to electronic voting registration, messy handwriting is no longer an issue. There is no room for human error, and the registration form is guaranteed delivery. This method is too convenient to not take advantage of, so go to https://www.alabamavotes.gov/olvr/default.aspx to complete your voter registrations form to cast your vote on March 1 for the primary. The deadline to apply in order to participate in this primary is Feb. 15. The democratic process depends upon your participation.

Alex Smith is a sophomore majoring in political science. Her column runs biweekly.

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