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ThePlumLIneGS whorunsgov plumline
Posted at 03:16 PM ET, 11/20/2012

Here’s a thought. Why don’t we make voting easy?

Of course: Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is reacting to Democratic electoral victories by trying to make it harder for people to vote. He wants to end same-day voter registration.

Same-day voter registration is, in fact, a bad policy — because registration should be automatic. But in the current situation it’s the least-bad of bad policies. That’s because everything about voter registration in this country is awful. We should have universal, automatic voter registration. Period. End of story. Just as most democracies do.

Having an extra burden on voters to get themselves registered (and, given how often Americans move, re-registered and re-registered again) is a bad idea. Granted, automatic voter registration for all would take federal government action, and there’s not much chance the the Republican House of Representatives will agree to anything like that any time soon. Still, it would be good to see some real movement on this in Congress, even if passage is unlikely this time around.

That’s not the only reform Congress could adopt. Senator Chris Coons has drafted promising reform legislation. Among his ideas: Giving federal grants to states that develop plans to make it easy to vote through streamlined registration, early voting, better training of election officials and other fixes. Separately, as Greg noted here recently, the Brennan Center for Justice has suggested a long set of reforms that would especially help alleviate election day problems.

Look: either you believe in democracy, or you don’t. If you do, you should be trying to make it easier for people to vote. Full stop. American elections administration right now is an embarrassment, but it’s actually a fairly easy problem to fix. Even if Democrats can’t do that alone, at the very least they should be fighting for better procedures. In the process, they would be making it clear that one side supports well-administered, high-participation elections — while the other side wants to select which voters will participate, with the goal of designing an electorate that suits its political needs.

By  |  03:16 PM ET, 11/20/2012

 
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