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time a Georgian updates his or her drivers license information, their voter record is also automatically updated.
The report from the Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR) also found that 97% of all Georgians have both a driver’s license and Social Security number associated with their voter registration record, boosting the accuracy of voter rolls that was questioned repeatedly by Republican conspiracy theorists after Democrat Joe Biden carried Georgia in the 2020 presidential election over GOP incumbent Donald Trump.
“We knew we were pretty good,” said Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer for the Georgia secretary of state’s office, who appeared at numerous news conferences following the 2020 election to debunk accusations that the race was rigged. “This report proves we were pretty good.” The report attributed the growth in Georgia’s voter registration rate to the ease of registering through the state Department of Driver Services (DDS). Most new registrations are occurring through DDS transactions, and they consistently account for more registrations than non-DDS sources.
The report also found that as the registration rate has increased, the registered population has become more representative of Georgia’s population. The gap between the overall population of younger voters and those who are registered to vote has grown much narrower.
The CEIR also reported a substantial decrease in the percentage of the voter rolls made up of inactive voters, which fell from an average of 14% during the 16 years before implementation of automatic voter registration to just 5% in 2020.
The voter registration rate peaked at 98% in 2020 before declining to 92% last year. CEIR founder David Becker attributed the decline to the COVID-19 pandemic, which reduced the number of Georgians going to DDS offices.
With the drive to register voters having proven successful, there’s also little room left to grow those numbers, Becker said.
“You’re really only capturing new residents, people who have moved into Georgia,” he said.
Sterling said automatic voter registration saves taxpayer dollars because automatic transactions are less expensive to process than paper registrations.
Becker said relying more on DDS offices to register voters also spreads out registration activity throughout the year rather than concentrating it during the busy election season, when elections officials are more likely to make mistakes.
“It cuts down on these voter challenges people are worried about,” Sterling said. “We don’t have to spend money and time on challenges.”