Friday, May 02, 2008

Great idea: a federal same-day voter registration law

Thanks to Upper Midwest Democratic Members of Congress Russ Feingold, Amy Klobuchar and Keith Ellison for introducing legislation in the House and Senate for same-day voter registration in federal elections.

This news article from the Dickinson Press out of North Dakota has the skinny.

The idea that citizens who want to vote are told by the government that they are not permitted to do so is appalling. And it happens every election.

Same-day voter registration puts more of the burden on the government -- as it should be -- to make sure that every citizen who wants to vote has an opportunity to do so.

Of course, Congress only has the authority to require same-day voter registration for federal elections, as the Constitution gives the authority to states to run their own elections any way they want.

But just like the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (usually called "motor-voter") that required federal voter registration forms in drivers' license facilities and public welfare offices where government officials regularly interact with citizens, these bills are also the right step led by Congress that most states will probably choose to follow for their state and local elections as well. Only a few states (notably Illinois under then-Governor Jim Edgar) petulantly ran two systems of voter registration, one for federal elections to comply with the NVRA and one for state and local elections. Now the entire nation largely follows the NVRA for state elections as well.

This is real progress and I predict and hope that with President Obama (a guy who got his start in politics with a huge 1992 voter registration drive in Chicago) and a Democratic Congress, the bill will be enacted into law in 2009, effective for the 2010 federal elections.

5 comments:

Steve Bartin said...

It's strange to call for same day registration,especially in a corrupt county like Cook County.Chicago has had massive voter fraud,same day registration would only compound the problem.When Chicago can elect a high ranking "made member" of the Chicago Mob(remember Alderman Roti?) to City Council:one has wonder whether same day registration could work in a sleazy town like Chicago.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Steve, criminal activities in the 20s or 50s should not influence public policies in the 2010s. And particularly if you want to help clean up towns with a history of corruption, the best way to do that is to engage all the honest people to vote the bad guys out office! And same-day registration helps. Voter fraud should be eliminated through prosecution, not through disenfranchisement of honest citizens. It's a little bit like the argument against gun control that the 2nd Amendment people (like you, I presume) make: we have enough laws on the books to keep the bad guys away from guns. We just need to enforce them and not restrict the access to guns from law-abiding people (so the argument goes). Similarly, we have enough laws on the books now to eliminate voter fraud. We just need to enforce them and not restrict access to the ballot from law-abiding people.

Thanks Steve -- that's a new argument for me!

Steve Bartin said...

Dan:
In a one party town like Chicago,it's difficult to see how making voting easier is going to clean up corruption.Vote fraud,in Chicago,is a present day reality(just read Jim Laski's new book).Chicago can't be cleaned up until there's two parties,term limits,and citizens that frown on corruption.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

I did read Jim Laski's book. The vote fraud, as always, takes place with absentee ballot manipulation, not on election day. And the citizens that frown on corruption are often those who are not registered at their current address and thus remain disenfranchised. That's a victory for the corrupt. But almost all vote fraud is gone by now, and what little of it is left is perpetrated by non-election-day votes.

Steve Bartin said...

Dan:

Let me quote to something from a blog entry I posted about a vote fraud in Chicago at http://nalert.blogspot.com/2008/04/100000-stolen-votes-in-chicago.html:Chicago, however, is known for its fires, and there was a roaring one there in 1982 that resulted in one of the largest voter fraud prosecutions ever conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. The telltale smoke arose out of one of the closest governor's races in Illi­nois history; and as for the fire, the U.S. Attorney in Chicago at the time, Daniel Webb, estimated that at least 100,000 fraudulent votes (10 percent of all votes in the city) had been cast