Thursday, November 6, 2008

Universal Voter Registration

New York Times is reporting growing support for a federal system that would automatically register all eligible voters. This is way past due. We don't have a Department of Voter Registration in the federal government because states have authority over election issues. But we really need federal oversight, or help at least. My understanding is that most of Western Europe uses this kind of system. I spoke with a woman from the BBC who said that in England when you turn 18, you get a notice in the mail, saying your voter registration is ready, and you just have to go down and sign it. The system proposed in this article sounds even simpler, you would be registered automatically. One question I have is - what are the opportunities to register for people who for some reason get accidentally left out?

"There is also increasing support for broadly expanding voter registration rolls, possibly by having the federal government require the states to make registration automatic for all eligible voters. Supporters say universal registration could reduce registration fraud and the confusion at the polls that results when voters are purged from the rolls.


Such a plan would be costly and technologically difficult, and it could run into resistance from Republicans who have been wary of expanding registration, citing concerns about ineligible voters being added to the rolls. Some state officials say they would prefer to set registration standards themselves.

But independent experts say easier registration and voting methods would ensure that huge crowds like those on Tuesday turn out without being discouraged by the long delays experienced in many states."

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