[Image courtesy of wikipedia]

This week’s Election Data Dispatch from Pew focuses on some new online voter registration stats from Maricopa County, AZ.

I’ve already rhapsodized elsewhere about Maricopa’s commitment to collecting and reporting election data – and this latest example is no exception.

Moreover, the data demonstrates the extent to which online voter registration (which will celebrate its tenth anniversary in Arizona this year) has changed elections in the Grand Canyon State. As Pew’s Dispatch observes:

+ In 2010, 73 percent of all Maricopa County voter registrations were submitted online. In 2009 this number was 85 percent, and in 2008 it was 69 percent.

+ From 2008‐2010, more than one million registration forms were sent via the online system, saving the county almost $850,000 in processing costs.

These numbers are very significant – not only is Maricopa remaking the voting process, it is saving taxpayers money as well. It’s probably no coincidence, therefore, that the County is one of the nation’s leaders in terms of community outreach and use of technology – programs that are affordable in part because of the decision to forgo reliance on paper registration forms.

Of course, online registration has its challenges – not the least of which is uptime and contingency planning, but Maricopa’s experience (and their commitment to collecting data about it) suggests that greater reliance on online registration can not only eliminate paper registration forms but can also save the paper money as well.