Georgia now has one of the highest voter registration rates in the nation, with 95% of citizens over 18 years old signed up to vote, according to federal election data released this week.
The number of Georgia voters has jumped since 2016, when the state started automatically registering voters when they obtain driver’s licenses.
There were nearly 7.2 million active registrations in Georgia as of November’s election, leaving just 387,000 unregistered people in the citizen voting age population, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s biennial report published Monday.
Many of those who aren’t registered to vote are ineligible because they’re serving felony sentences.
Over 265,000 Georgians couldn’t vote because they were incarcerated, serving parole or on felony probation, according to data from 2019 compiled by Reform Georgia, a criminal justice advocacy organization.
Most new voter registrations, about 67%, came from Georgia’s automatic voter registration program at driver’s license offices, according to the Election Assistance Commission.
Georgians have been signed up to vote when they fill out driver’s license forms since September 2016 unless they check a box to opt out. Before then, voters had to opt in.
Automatic registration significantly increased Georgia’s active voter registration rates, from 76% in 2016 to 95% in 2020, the federal data shows.
Other methods of registering to vote play a smaller role.
Online applications on the secretary of state’s website accounted for 16% of new registrations, and mailed or emailed applications made up 12%. The rest of registrations came from applications completed at county election offices, public assistance offices or disability offices.
Nine states had higher registration rates than Georgia, led by Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire and Illinois.
However, there might be more unregistered voters in Georgia than indicated by the report from the Election Assistance Commission. The commission relied on census estimates from 2019 rather than updated figures from the 2020 census.
Though almost all eligible voters are registered, that doesn’t mean they turned out.
Over 5 million voters cast ballots in the 2020 presidential election, a turnout rate of 66% of the state’s citizen voting age population. The national average for turnout was 68%.