Thursday, January 24, 2008

New voter? Take a hike. No same-day registration here

Tuesday, democracy's door swung shut in Illinois. With the most exciting presidential primary of the last two decades less than two weeks away, the new voters, the unregistered and those who have moved since they last voted are now officially locked out of the primary.

What a shame.

It's illegal to register to vote for the primary at this point. It's illegal to register at your new address.

And in two weeks, tens of thousands of people in Illinois will try to vote and be turned away. (No data to prove that, as the government doesn't keep records of the people who show up at their precinct polling place and ask if they are permitted to help elect their leaders and politely but firmly told to take a hike because they didn't register with the government ahead of time. But I'm confident that the numbers are significant. If it's a few people in each precinct, and we've got 10,000 or so precincts in Illinois, you can do the math).

In this day and age, there is simply no good reason to continue to disenfrachise people who want to vote.

Illinois needs to follow the lead of seven states and implement same-day voter registration.

And if you're concerned about voter fraud, then you're largely chasing a ghost. There just isn't any significant voter fraud in the United States. Read the report from the Brennan Center for Justice on the topic, or from Demos before instinctively reacting with the fear of fraud.

Citizens deserve the right to pick the people who run the government, no matter when they decide to register to vote.

3 comments:

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Steve Bartin said...

Crook County has had a long history with vote fraud.Election judges have been paid off to look the other way.How many dead people are still voting in Crook County? More than you think.One party rule breeds corruption.Obviously some wards are worse than others.Dan,have you ever noticed that the 14th Ward some elections has a lot of absentee ballots? Why do you think that is? Same day registration for Crook County probably would lead to what's called the "1960" type situation.

Richard said...

You and Bartin are both partially right. You're right that "voter" don't really commit much fraud but the fraud is committed by political partisans and the election judges they control. It still happens and we have a proud (?) tradition of it in Cook County. That's why the recent mayoral election in Calumet City was reversed by the courts.
Any person who wants to vote and is not registered can use Grace Period voting up to 14 days before the election. That's a big improvement without risking the integrity of an election in a community in which election fraud was once commonly practiced.