As efforts to scale back voting rights move forward in states nationwide, Rock the Vote is pushing forward with new groundbreaking technology built within our state-of-the-art online voter registration tool that now allows users to register to vote (from their phone, iPad, or computer) completely online—no printing, signing, or mailing involved. The tool launched last week in Washington State, where Rock the Vote generated 49,103 voter registration applications in 2008. Rock the Vote’s partnership with the state is the first of its kind anywhere in the country.

Young people, who now make up nearly one quarter of the electorate, turned out in unprecedented numbers in 2008. Since then, more than 30 states have passed voting restrictions. Because of Voter ID laws, strict residency requirements, and elimination of early voting, the Brennan Center for Justice projects that nearly five million people—especially young, minority, and elderly citizens—could be prevented from casting their ballots this November.

“Young people across the country are seeing their voting rights eroded by politicians with explicit interests in keeping them silent. This tool will help them reclaim their voice in our democracy,” said Heather Smith, President of Rock the Vote. “It serves not only as a model for modernizing voter registration practices across the country, but also as a significant step forward for voting rights.”

The application is poised to cut costs for cash-strapped states, reduce errors, and pave the way for increased turnout—particularly among young people.

“In the past presidential election approximately 78 percent of those that filled out a completed form online mailed it in and got on the rolls. By taking out the sign and mail steps, the tool will likely bring that rate to nearly 100 percent. That means thousands of new registered voters from Rock the Vote alone,” said Smith.

Registering online makes the system more secure, more accurate, and more cost efficient. But many young people still need to be asked or reminded to register, which is why Rock the Vote’s partnership with states is so crucial. As the largest nonpartisan voter registration and engagement organization in the country, Rock the Vote is uniquely positioned to facilitate voter registration by posting the tool on thousands of sites young people visit, such as Facebook and popular artists’ websites, as well as in game consoles.

“The process was simple and quick,” said John Gaines, who used the tool to register in Washington State. “It made it convenient for me… and it was cheaper. [Making] it easy for people to get registered will help us get more people to vote.”

Washington State is the first among a number of key states—including California, Oregon, and Nevada—that are in conversation with Rock the Vote about integrating this new technology in advance of November’s general election. The tool is available for free to any group that wants to promote voter registration. With tech-savvy young people expected to play a critical role in determining the outcome of the 2012 Election, this tool is a huge step forward for voting rights and for building a 21st-century electoral system.

About Rock the Vote

Rock the Vote’s mission is to engage and build political power for young people in our country. Using music, popular culture, new technologies, and grassroots organizing for more than 20 years, Rock the Vote has registered more than 5 million young people, including a record-shattering 2.25 million registration downloads in the historic 2008 election. As the tidal wave of Millennial Generation voters continues to establish its power at the polls, Rock the Vote will register millions more young people and make their voices heard.