Senator Lee introduces automatic voter registration policy for Guam
Guam Sen. Régine Biscoe Lee
Guam Sen. Régine Biscoe Lee has introduced bipartisan Bill 234-34 (LS), which would implement a streamlined voter registration process for all eligible citizens in Guam as well as providing them with the choice to opt out. Lee, who serves as chairwoman of the Committee on Innovation and Economic, Workforce,and Youth Development in the 34th Guam Legislature, introduced the bill with co-sponsors Sens. William M. Castro, Fernando B. Esteves, Thomas A. Morrison, Joe S. San Agustin, and Mary Camacho Torres.
“Involvement in our government’s democratic process through voting should be as streamlined for our citizens as possible. This policy, among other benefits, would make voting easier and encourage voter participation because it removes a hurdle to becoming registered and because more eligible citizens would be registered to vote,” Biscoe Lee said.
"We look forward to working with the Department of Revenue and Taxation, Guam Election Commission and other stakeholders as we seek to provide another more efficient and convenient way to register to vote. The bill also provides a pathway for streamlined voter registration for eligible students from the University of Guam and Guam Community College."
This bill would expand the legislative efforts of Sen. Mary Camacho Torres’ 2015 “Motor Voter Law,”which made voter registration optional when applying for a new or renewed ID or driver’s license.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, nine states and Washington, D.C., have enacted legislation to automatically register voters, while another 32 states have introduced similar legislation this year. The center says that the policy modernizes voter registration and dramatically increases registration rates, reporting that nearly every state that has adopted the policy has grown its voter registration numbers, some up to sevenfold. Subsequently, voter turnout at elections improves as well.
According to the Guam Election Commission, the number of registered voters in Guam in the 2016 general election was about 51,000, down from 61,000 in 2002. Likewise, the commission reported in its “2016 Election Comparative Analysis” that the percentage of voter turnout in general elections has bounced between about 67 percent and 77 percent since 2000, compared to 80 to 90 percent in decades past, while turnout for primary elections has been as low as 43 percent in the past 10 years.