AWS Public Sector Blog

Simplifying voter registration and building confidence with the cloud

National Voter Registration Day, celebrated on the fourth Tuesday of September, is a nonpartisan civic holiday in the US creating broad awareness of voter registration opportunities and celebrating democracy. First celebrated in 2012, the holiday has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED), the US Election Assistance Commission (EAC), and the National Association of Election Officials (The Election Center).

The goal of National Voter Registration Day is to register one million new voters by 2022, reaching a total of 5.5 million new voters that have registered on the holiday across all 50 states and the District of Columbia since 2012. To reach this goal, state and local governments and nonprofit civic organizations use digital platforms powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) to modernize and simplify voter registration.

National Voter Registration Day encourages all eligible voters to prepare for their civic duty

National Voter Registration Day seeks to elevate reliable and trusted sources of information on voting, such as the collaboration between state and local election officials and government technology organizations to drive voter registration and build trust. In the US, voting-eligible citizens may lack information regarding voter registration and how to participate in state and local elections. Voters need to register or update their registration due to change of address, name change, or when they become eligible to vote upon turning 18 or becoming a US citizen.

In Vermont, Secretary of State Jim Condos noted that National Voter Registration Day is a day to remind and encourage eligible Americans across the country to register to vote and to prepare to participate in the democratic process. Vermont offers online, automatic, and same day voter registration to help increase accuracy, access, and operational efficiencies.

Secretary Condos said, “Automatic voter registration through our partnership with the Department of Motor Vehicles has helped make sure that the vast majority of eligible Vermonters are registered to vote, while improving the quality and accuracy of our voter checklist. Our easy online voter registration is accessible and secure. Same day voter registration, where a voter can register any day leading up to, and on, Election Day, helps make sure that no eligible voter will be denied their right to vote.”

Vermont relies on a technology solution from AWS Technology Partner Civix, which leverages AWS to securely simplify and modernize voter registration processes. Civix voter registration tools manage every facet of voter registration, and has been used to register over 25% of all US voters.

According to Will Senning, director of elections and campaign finance in the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office, conducting an election in 2020 “was orders of magnitude more difficult than previous years and the professional challenge of a lifetime.” To streamline and modernize administrative processes, Vermont used the Civix Election Platform, which includes modules such as voter registration; a centralized voter registration repository that registers and stores statewide voter information; and My Voter Portal, a public access portal for voter registration information.

With Civix, voters’ records automatically follow them as they move, and voters’ addresses are standardized with the United States Post Office and assigned to districts and precincts with geographic information system (GIS) mapping. In addition, signature matching and real-time analytics make sure election data is more accurate and accessible. For the 2020 election season, Civix moved all its elections management systems into AWS GovCloud (US). AWS GovCloud (US) Regions are designed to host sensitive data, regulated workloads, and address the most stringent US government security and compliance requirements. Powered by AWS, 45 million US voters registered through Civix technology in 2020.

AWS powers tools to get citizens #VoteReady in local, state, and federal elections

Thousands of local elections are taking place across the US in 2021. There are more than 9,000 election jurisdictions in the US and local elections determine a variety of important policy matters, including education, tax, justice, and public safety. National Voter Registration Day seeks to raise awareness of state-specific voter registration deadlines and policies, and educate voters on election information. Beyond the first step of voter registration, this includes knowing polling place locations, different options for casting a ballot, what, if any, identification  is required, and the candidates and issues on the ballot.

TurboVote, the flagship tool from Democracy Works, provides the public with information they need to register and vote with confidence in every election, all in one place. Historically, TurboVote sent a series of standard notifications to voters who had upcoming election dates and deadlines, providing them with the information they needed to participate. But in 2020, as the pandemic began to shift these dates and deadlines, Democracy Works knew they would need to deploy rapid response notifications. TurboVote is able to keep users up to date with accurate and timely information—from verifying the election dates, to encouraging voters to look up and confirm their polling place before heading out to vote, to providing information about voting procedures. When the trend of last minute changes continued throughout the 2020 election cycle, TurboVote continued to walk users through each step of their voting journeys. Overall participation reached historic levels, and in 2020, Democracy Works’ direct support to voters included 68.3 million notifications sent to voters, 15.4 million voters given the ability to track their mail ballot, and 3.6 million voters received voter registration assistance.

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon DynamoDB allows TurboVote to scale on demand, making it possible for TurboVote to handle tens of thousands of concurrent users on its busiest days leading up to general elections without having to pay for dedicated infrastructure year round.

In 2020, Democracy Works co-founded Civic Alliance, a nonpartisan group of businesses working together to build a future where everyone participates in shaping our country. Civic Alliance’s more than 1,200 member companies help increase civic participation among their teams and audiences, ultimately strengthening trust in our democracy.

Join in the national civic holiday on September 28, celebrate #NationalVoterRegistrationDay, and help your communities become #VoteReady.

Register to vote or check your registration today. And read more stories of other government and nonprofit civic organizations that use AWS to support voter registration and education.

Tonya Rice

Tonya Rice

Tonya Rice has served as a leader in the elections and public sector technology industries for over 15 years. At Amazon Web Services (AWS), Tonya advises state and local governments on how to address their most complex challenges by securely modernizing systems that drive electoral, legislative, and political processes. Prior to AWS, Tonya served as director of elections and chief data officer for Cook County, Illinois, one of the largest US election jurisdictions, where her responsibilities included leadership across a diverse security and technology group. Collectively, her teams of 100+ specialists led strategy, development, and operations of innovative new solutions and public-private partnership models. As a subject matter expert, Tonya has authored multiple cybersecurity whitepapers and delivered keynotes at national election conferences. She has also served on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s national task force of election officials to develop industry best practices. Tonya earned a J.D. degree from Northwestern University School of Law, a B.A. degree from Northwestern University, and serves on the Board of Advisors for Auburn University’s Graduate Program in Election Administration. She also chairs the Board of Directors at Chicago HOPES for Kids, a nonprofit organization that provides educational services for children living in homeless shelters.