May 15, 2023

STATEMENT: IRG Celebrates Governor Inslee’s Bill Signing for Upgrades to Automatic Voter Registration

Washington is the latest in a series of states modernizing their election systems to increase elections security and access to the ballot

For Immediate Release: May 15, 2023

OLYMPIA — Earlier today, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed Senate Bill 5112 into law, legislation that will update existing voter rolls and automatically register eligible individuals to vote through certain Department of Licensing (DOL) transactions. Notably, the legislation passed on a bipartisan basis. Joining New Mexico and Minnesota, Washington is the third state to codify updates to their automatic voter registration system this year.

SB 5112 makes necessary upgrades to modernize the state’s existing voter registration infrastructure, including:

  • Implementing a secure automatic voter registration (SAVR) system to streamline automatic voter registration for eligible individuals applying for an enhanced state ID or driver’s license.
  • Further secures the voter registration process to maintain clean, accurate and up-to-date voter rolls.
  • Strengthening protections for non-citizens in standard license transactions by relying on verified documents to filter confirmed non-citizens out of registration.

With Governor Inslee’s signing, Washingtonians will enjoy the gold standard voter registration system. An upgrade from the state’s previous partial automatic voter registration (PAVR) system, SAVR uses multiple layers of built-in verification to ensure the security and integrity of voter rolls, while promoting accessibility and efficiency. It also saves taxpayer resources while diversifying the state’s voter rolls, increasing accuracy of registration records, and expanding access across the state. By adopting SAVR, Washington continues to strengthen its commitment to robust civic participation.

Sam Oliker-Friedland, executive director of the Institute for Responsive Government, issued the following statement:

“Washington is the third state to pass secure automatic voter registration this year alone, and by doing so Washington took an important step towards creating secure, safe, and accessible elections. These upgrades are critical for election administrators, who will benefit from the streamlined process and seamless data updates that will ensure clean voter rolls — all while saving time and money for voters and county auditors alike.

“We’re excited to see further advancements in Washington with the passage of SB 5112 — through this legislation, the secretary of state’s office will utilize secure information they obtain through DOL transactions, reducing the individual burden of verifying voter eligibility. This is especially important for unregistered eligible voters, as well as formerly incarcerated individuals in the state of Washington, creating a more secure registration system while giving every eligible voter a say in our democracy without the unnecessary red tape.

“Congratulations to Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, the Washington Voting Justice Coalition, and bill sponsors Senator Hunt and Representative Simmons, who collaborated across the rotunda to codify the gold standard for automatic voter registration and position Washington as one of the most voter-friendly states in the country. To the tireless advocates and electeds who made this happen: Well done!”

To speak with IRG subject matter experts about Washington upgrading to a secure automatic voter registration system, please contact


The Institute for Responsive Government is a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to ensuring state and federal governments work effectively for the very people they serve. IRG provides data, research and expertise to elected officials in order to find practical policy solutions that make government systems more efficient, accessible, and responsive.