Voter Registration Reform

Ideas and Issues Personal Writings Voting Rights

Minnesota Senate Legal EaglesTakoma Park I have long advocated an automatic registration system as a step forward in democracy in America.  A couple of days ago there may have been some movement in this direction from a new bipartisan effort called the Committee to Modernize Voter Registration.  According to a squib I saw on this new formation, the co-chairs are Trevor Potter, former counsel to McCain’s campaign in 2000 and 2008 and Marc Elias, the former GC for Kerry-Edwards in 2004 and more recently the lead attorney on the lengthy Al Franken challenges in Minnesota.

They come at the problem from the perspective of moving from a paper world to a more modern technological means in tune with modern society.  However they get there is fine with me as long as we get there.  The key to me is that we start, like other world democracies, to automatically register citizens rather than making them run through a registration maze and end up disenfranchised.

According to the Weekly Standard…

“Elias and Potter are emphatic that their initiative is not a federal takeover of state-run elections. Rather, federal data — like the selective service list, or immigration lists, or social security lists — will be resources that states could use to automatically register eligible voters. Then, voters can opt-out of the system if they do not wish to be registered — “the presumption is you’re in, not out,” says Elias.”

I don’t know that I understand the whole idea of “opting” out of being a registered voter any more than I could understand how one could opt out of the tax system or citizenship.  Seems like to me that if you are a citizen, then you are a registered voter and that the “opting” out comes, as it does now, with the exercise of the franchise.  I think voting ought to be mandatory, too, but we can argue about that later.  Let’s at least finally give EVERYONE the right to vote automatically, and we are in way better shape than we are in America now.