REPORT: Voter Registration Has Plummeted With The COVID-19 Outbreak

on October 1, 2016 in Tysons Corner, Virginia.
TYSONS CORNER, VA - OCTOBER 02: Virginia State House Delegate Mark Keam (R) watches a demonstration of a voting machine by a staff of Fairfax County Office of Elections during the annual KORUS festival, a Korean cul... TYSONS CORNER, VA - OCTOBER 02: Virginia State House Delegate Mark Keam (R) watches a demonstration of a voting machine by a staff of Fairfax County Office of Elections during the annual KORUS festival, a Korean cultural festival, October 2, 2016 in Tysons Corner, Virginia. It has been reported that the voter registration systems of more than 20 states were targeted by hackers in recent months. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS
|
June 11, 2020 10:34 a.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Voter registration took a major hit as the coronavirus outbreak began, according to a new survey of 13 states by the Center for Election Innovation & Research.

All 13 states saw a decline in their new registrations in April, when compared to the registration numbers in April 2016. Eleven of those 13 states also saw lower registration numbers in March.

(Center for Election Innovation & Research)

The dip came after all 13 states bested their 2016 registration numbers in January. For about half of the states, that positive trend continued through February.

The report looked at voter registration data from Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Virginia.

There are several different ways the pandemic has hobbled typical registration opportunities.

Trips to the driver’s license office and other government offices — an activity that the lockdowns have now limited — are when many voters have traditionally registered to vote. The report notes that several states in its survey had since 2016 implemented an automatic voter registration system that stood to boost registration numbers out of DMV interactions.

“This practice has added millions of eligible Americans to their states’ voter rolls in recent years and should have led to this year’s new voter registrations overshadowing those of 2016,” the Center said.

Additionally, the in-person field work done by third party registration groups has been scrambled by the pandemic, though some of those groups saw hopeful signs of increased registration activity around the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

The decline in registrations is particularly troubling as elections officials prepare to scale up their absentee voting operations for the pandemic.

For states that plan to proactively mail their voters ballots or ballot applications, the effectiveness of those efforts depend on the rolls being up to date.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Comments
advertisement
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer:
SPECIAL DEAL FOR PAST TPM MEMBERS
40% OFF AN ANNUAL PRIME MEMBERSHIP
REJOIN FOR JUST $30