On Tuesday Connecticut became the fifth state to adopt a system where residents are automatically registered to vote. Could that system ever catch on nationally?

Oregon made big news just last year, when officials announced they would be automatically registering voters using information collected from the DMV. Since then, four states have followed in their footsteps: West Virginia, Vermont, California, and now Connecticut.
Connecticut’s system will take two years to develop and—while similar to Oregon will automatically register those eligible when they visit the DMV—is the first to completely bypass its state legislature to pass the policy administratively. And while that may help the state avoid a lawsuit from the DOJ over the “widespread noncompliance” with federal laws, it won’t win them any favors with many conservatives.

It’s no secret (or at least a poorly kept one) that many conservatives in the U.S. political system want stricter access to voting booths. Depending on who you talk to it’s either about protecting from voter fraud or a conspiracy to limit disenfranchised voters (who might be perceived to vote liberal) from accessing their right. Either way it’s made the issue of voting a lot more political.

But many say more voting access isn’t as clear cut as that. In an interview with LXBN TV last year, Stefan Passantino said that Colorado has actually seen more contest with increased voter access:

The thing that was interesting and what Colorado has really shown is that sometimes the political minds aren’t necessarily correct. It was somewhat controversial in Colorado, when they moved to the voting by mail, that it was going to Colorado to become more blue than it was. Well you only have to look at what happened to Colorado in 2014’s vote, it’s actually a very purple state that actually had some key races go the Republican way, with vote by mail. I think you might find a lot of political scientists say that this might actually be a rising tide that lifts all votes; Republican, Democrat, and Independent third-party voters. Not necessarily one that’s going to create a partisan advantage.

Still in a heated election year, voters’ rights are a major, if not oft discussed issue. Connecticut’s new system will introduce an estimated 400,000 voters to the rolls over the next few years. As ThinkProgress notes, President Obama’s 2012 victory in the state was thanks to fewer than 300,000 voters, meaning the soon to be registered Connecticut voters could make a crucial difference in the politics of the state.

Photo Credit: nshepard cc
Photo Credit: nshepard cc

Similarly, Oregon, which hosted its first primary yesterday after implementing their new rules, has registered 129,162 voters since January when the new rules went into effect. Though only reportedly about 51,000 of those have been registered through the Automatic Voter Registration, it’s a major growth from the similar period during the last open presidential election in 2008, when Oregon received about 85,362. Overall, automatic voter registrations seem to be succeeding.

Whether that will finally earn it popularity amongst Republicans (Oregon’s law passed the state’s legislature without any Republican votes) only time will tell. But with 28 states plus D.C. considering some sort of reform it may be time conservatives start finding ways to rock the vote.