Michigan innovating in voter registration

Online option allows organizations to save time, money on paper registration forms

The Michigan Department of State has developed a new tool to allow civic groups and other organizations running voter registration drives to register voters through the state’s online registration website. Groups with electronic voter registration programs can now connect to the online voter registration system through an application programming interface (API), which allows data to be transferred securely.

“Civic groups and other organizations that conduct voter registration drives are doing important work to drive engagement in the democratic process,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Giving them access to another tool that allows them to conduct that work efficiently and securely streamlines the process while reducing waste and saving money.”

Voter registration drives are typically a paper-based process, but the groups conducting them are increasingly making use of digital options. Organizations interested in using the API to register voters through the state’s online voter registration portal can do so after completing a security review and working to ensure compatibility with the state’s platform. Those unable to use the API can instead obtain a unique URL to share with those registering to direct them to Michigan’s online voter registration website.

Voters must still provide all information necessary to register online, including a driver’s license number and the last four digits of their social security number. The information is verified through Department of State records in the same manner as an individual attempting to register online themselves. This system has already been implemented in other states like Pennsylvania and Virginia, allowing civic groups to continue their own voter engagement efforts while ensuring applications are complete and can be quickly verified.

The API was developed by the Department’s Bureau of Elections alongside the Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) and Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization. Organizations interested in using the API or a URL should contact the Bureau of Elections at elections@michigan.gov.

 

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