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2,500 register to vote online

State’s system called aid to procrastinators

– Just a month into the new initiative, Indiana’s foray into online voter registration is going smoothly and at a measured pace.

About 2,500 Hoosiers have used the new Internet tool to register or update their registration information.

But Barry Schust, the Republican member of the Allen County Board of Voter Registration, expects the numbers to increase the closer the state gets to the Oct. 4 registration deadline.

“It’s working out great so far,” he said.

Indiana last month quietly joined seven other states in offering the service.

Jim Gavin, spokesman for the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, said previously Hoosiers could go online, print out the registration form, fill it out and mail it to their local registration office. Now they can do it all online.

And the voter still shows his ID when he goes to the polls.

The only limitation is the voter has to have an Indiana driver’s license or identification card because the online system is linked with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles database. In fact, the voter’s signature on the license is used for additional verification in the poll book voters must sign to vote.

Schust said the online registrations are much faster to process for staff members.

And he said it will be a big advantage for those who wait until the last minute to register. In the past if citizens called the office late on deadline day, they had little time to come to the office.

Now they can go online and register any time that day before midnight.

In the 2008 election, only Arizona and Washington used online voter registration.

A joint research study of the two states was released in April. It was funded by Make Voting Work, a project of the Pew Center on the States.

The study found that in both states, Internet registrants tend to be much younger, 55 percent younger than 40 in Arizona and 60 percent younger than age 34 in Washington.

And despite being much younger, people who registered to vote online turned out to vote at higher rates in 2008 than did those who registered in traditional methods.

In Washington, 85.3 percent of online registrants voted, compared with 82.4 percent turnout statewide.

In Arizona, the gap is more noticeable with 94 percent of online registrants voting compared with 85 percent of traditional registrants in 2008.

The study said this finding was remarkable because younger voters had lower rates of voting in 2008 than did older voters.

nkelly@jg.net

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