Organizing voter registration during a pandemic offers several challenges, as election boards around the nation struggle to create and implement policies that will keep workers and voters safe while at the same time protecting the integrity of the voting process. Craig Stender Arizona, former Assistant Project Director for the Arizona Department of Transportation, suggests the importance of relying on automated processes such as permitting voters to register at the Department of Motor Vehicles or online.
Craig Stender Arizona, suggests that election boards consider working with already established technological infrastructures to get their automated registration systems started quickly. Stender participated in the development of an online registration voter registration system in Arizona that used the Department of Motor Vehicle’s already existing technology and portal. Taking advantage of this extant infrastructure allowed developers to quickly create a secure system of online identity verification that greatly streamlined the data gathering process while at the same time preventing fraudulent registrations.
Craig Stender’s team in Arizona was then able to expand the electronic registration system to introduce online voter registration in 2003. As part of the group that developed Arizona’s voter automation policy, Craig Stender was able to increase the efficiency and security of the registration process by efficient scaling — using the same technology to streamline registrations completed at the Motor Vehicle Administration and online.
Arizona has achieved several benefits as a result of introducing automated voter registration, including reduced expenditures. A study released by the Brennan Center shows the cost savings delivered by automation. In Maricopa County, Arizona, for instance, it costs 3¢ to process an electronic form and 84¢ to complete an online registration. One county in Arizona saved $36,000 per year in personnel costs after the introduction of automation. The reduced volume of paper applications has allowed Maricopa County to eliminate one full-time position, saving the state $36,000 per year. In Craig Stender’s experience, localities often save even more due to reduced printing and postage costs. In 2008, Maricopa County saved over $450,000 as a result of Craig Stender’s work on automation.
Automated voter registration also increases election security. There are “far, far fewer” problems when using an automated registration process, according to Craig Stender. Arizona election officials state that since the introduction of the state’s automated voter registration processes, there have been no known instances of the system being used to register fraudulently or to change an already completed registration without authorization.