Today, on Tax Day, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) introduced the Filer Voter Act to make it easier to register to vote. The bill would allow voters to register to vote when they file their taxes.
Forty-nine states require Americans to register to vote. One of the best ways to make it easier for people to register to vote is to create more opportunities for people to easily access voter registration forms. Much like the “Motor Voter Law” of the 1990s that allowed voters to register to vote with their local motor vehicle department the “Filer Voter Act” will require tax preparers to provide individuals the option to receive voter registration materials. Whether you do your taxes in person, online, or through a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program, the tax preparers will make sure you have the option of receiving a voter registration application form.
“Across the country, state legislatures are taking steps to disenfranchise voters through voter roll purges and other voter suppression tactics,” said Watson Coleman. “In the face of this onslaught, it’s important to ensure voters have many opportunities to register and take part in our democratic process. The Filer Voter Act follows the model of the Motor Voter Act in its first year helped 30 million voters complete or update their registration.”
Studies conducted by the nonpartisan Brookings Institute in Cleveland and Dallas found the Filer Voter program doubled the likelihood of unregistered voters registering to vote.
“Prosperity Now is proud to support the Filer Voter Act that would allow tax preparers to share voter registration forms and information with their clients,” said Gary Cunningham, President & CEO of Prosperity Now, a national nonprofit based in Washington, DC dedicated to expanding economic opportunity for low-income families. “As longtime advocates for critical free tax preparation services, such as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, and with the recent demonstrated impact of engaging all eligible Americans in the voting process, we are thrilled by the prospect of connecting the dots between the tax filing process and the voting process to encourage civic participation.”
Cosponsors of the Filer Voter Act include Reps. Thomas Suozzi (NY-3), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Mary Gary Scanlon (PA-5), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-At Large), Henry C. “Hank” Johnson (GA-4), Bennie Thompson (MS-2) and Barbara Lee (CA-13).
Text of the Filer Voter Act can be found here.