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16955 AutoVoteMain

As voters make up their minds on which candidates they'll cast a ballot for, the future of voting itself might play a role in who they end up picking.

Automatic voter registration is a new idea that a few states have begun flirting with. California and Oregon recently adopted policies that register voters automatically when they renew their drivers licenses at the DMV, using the same registration method states have used to enroll young men in Selective Service. 

The hope behind this new policy is that it will swell voter turnout numbers which were historically low in the 2012 elections. 

16955 VoterRegistrationInfographicPhoto Credit: CraigConnects.org

Like all the major issues in the United States, this one's also divided along party lines. Democrats have pushed for expanding the number of registered voters, while Republicans have fought against automatic voter registration, raising concerns about voter privacy and fraud. To combat these concerns, many states have adopted voter ID laws when holding elections. 

Voter ID laws require a valid photo identification when voters arrive at the polls. This practice has been criticized as exclusionary and a way of preventing American citizens from being able to vote. Without a photo ID, millions of voters could be turned away without ever casting a ballot, an issue the below video elaborates on.

Rather than restrict access to voting, automatic voter registration breaks down barriers to entry millions of voters experience every election cycle. According to Newsweek.com, 62 million possible voters are unregistered in the US. That many voters could make a significant difference in a close-cut presidential election like in 2012's. 

Following California and Oregon's lead, Hawaii, Illinois and Vermont have also introduced legislation that would automatically register their voters when they renew licenses at the DMV. It's too early to tell how significantly automatic registration boosts actual voter turnout, but by eliminating one of the barriers to entry, millions of people have better access to democratic participation. 

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