Progressive state and local governments are attacking back on the Republican's anti-American war on voting by implementing forward-thinking laws and policies that reduce the barriers between citizens and their ballots.
Yesterday, the Madison (WI) City Council passed an ordinance adding the voter registration form to the pile of paper documents that landlords must distribute to tenants when they move in. This is now law, just in time for the August move-in for UW-Madison students. Half the housing units in Madison are rental units and a large percentage of those units turn over every year.
As Alder Bridget Maniaci, the lead sponsor of the proposal explains, providing voter registration information to citizens when they move into a new place makes sense, since that's when people are changing their address (and they are probably unaware that they must proactively tell some obscure unit of local government they have moved in order to vote months later). From the Isthmus:
The way citizens in the United States vote is based on where they live, Maniaci adds, which means it is sensible to provide them with voting information when they change addresses.As a bonus, getting citizens to register to vote early is cheaper for the city clerk to process than registering people in the crunch leading up to the election, so distributing these voter registration forms will save taxpayers some money.
"To provide to tenants voter registration forms at the time they move in, when most individuals are in the process of changing all of their other household information, everything from Netflix to their post-office address to the DMV, that's a very natural time to do this," she says.
On the West Coast, Washington State's Secretary of State is unveiling an app that will allow users to register to vote through Facebook. Since Washington State already uses online voter registration, pulling the data from a user's Facebook account and importing it into the voter registration program will make it easier for people to register -- and people can tell their friends about how they registered to vote, creating more of a social norm of democratic self-governance through participation.
Congratulations to Washington and Madison (named after two Founding Fathers, coincidentally) for further implementing the great democratic spirit of our American Republic.