Should Everyone Be Automatically Registered to Vote?

Fora country that claims to run on democratic principles, it’s shocking that one-third of Americans don’t vote. That’s right;young peopledon’t vote,poorpeople don’t vote, and at least35million Americans aren’t even registered.

America’s dismal voter turnout could be attributed to the fact that many statesmakevoting a challenge. Since the 2012 election, fourteen states have passed laws, like voter ID laws, that make votingeven more difficult. Thesevoter IDlaws disproportionately hurtthose without state-issued cards, like low-income people of color andtransgenderfolks.

But automatic voter registration could change that.

Asvoter suppressionefforts persist, fivestates have passed laws to automatically register citizens to vote. Two dozen others have considered similar laws, as the Pew Charitable Trust notes. And this summera Pennsylvania representative proposed a billthat would require statesnationwide to set up their own systems for automatic registration. If passed, millions will have one lesshurdle to participate in the U.S. political system.

“We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla says.”The right to vote should be no different.”

Automatic registration typically looks like this: When someone gets or renews a state ID like a driver’s license, they get registered. They can opt-out at any time.

As ThinkProgress note above, these types of modernized laws willlikelyboost voter participation. They can also cut costs.

The state of Delaware, for instance, reports it saved $200,000 in labor by switching from paper registration forms to automatically registering citizens automatically at the Department of Motor Vehicles, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Those opposed to automatic registration argue that the system, if not laid out correctly, opens up voter fraud (which is extremely rare).

Here’s Gov. Bruce Rauner explaining why he vetoed a bill in August to automatically register Illinois voters. Watch his explanation starting at 1:00.

Others argueautomaticregistrationdoesn’t mean people will vote. And that’s a valid point: TheU.S. has some of the lowest turnouts among theworld’s most developed democracies and republics.

Take this year’s presidential primary, for instance, where lessthan 30 percent of people cast a ballot.

Therefore, automatic registration is just a step in increasing voter numbers.

Political veteran Steve Phillips tells Care2politicians need to address and fundissues that historically disenchanted groups care about, for instance.

“You have to inspire them with a compelling policy agenda that speaks to their needs,” he says of attracting voters of color.

Just registeringlow-income votersisn’t enough either. As Kevin Matthews notes in Care2, they need resources that help them get to the polls, like free transit, diverse polling locations or maybe a day off of work on Election Day. Campaign finance reform can also make them feel more involved in politics.

Though our election system has many things to work on, automatic registration is a good start for change. The less hoops voters need to jump through, the better.

If you agree, signCare2′s petition to pass the Automatic Voter Registration Act of 2016 and don’t forget to make sure you and your loved ones are registered to vote.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

78 comments

Jane R.
Jane R2 years ago

Automatic voter registration sounds good, but you can't force anyone to go out and vote. Then there are some people who will vote even though they don't know anything about the candidates or issues. These votes could have a large impact of the outcome of an election. Candidates not qualified or who have positions detrimental to our country could be elected. Not a good idea. If you are informed on the issues then register and vote, otherwise stay at home.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Robert Hamm,
I agree. The two parties could ensure that it wouls be [nearly] impossible to cheat. However, they enjoy their positions of power, and power in power tend to not want to give up that power. They will do everything possible to ensure that they remain in power, including favorable redistricting, free mailing, and controlling elections. This is nothing new, and dates back to the early 19th century.

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Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

You are entitled to your delusions David……but it doesnt make them reality. The only reason it is so possible to cheat is becasue they political parties or operatives WANT to be able to cheat. The very people who make these machines are the people who make banking machines that we all consider very safe. Voting machines could be made VERY tamper proof if they wanted them to be. Mail In Ballots are no less safe than any other method.

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Robert Hamm
Robert Hamm2 years ago

I am sorry Nimrods. YOU dodnt get to decide who is uninformed and who isnt. YOU dodnt get to say who gets to vote and who doesnt. Automatic REGISTRATION may cause irregularities now and then becasue databses arent alway kept as current as we would like. it wouldnt create or add to voter fraud. MOST FRAUD IS HAPPENING AFTER VIOTERS VOTE. Most is happening in the handling of already cast ballots. Itcs caused by machines….its caused by warehouses with uncounted ballots being discovered weeks adfter the vote. Dont you peiople ever pay attention. I heard this shit going on when I was 12. VOTERS are NOT the major cause of fraud. Stop listening to conspiracy bullshit.

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Eric,
I tend to agree. An uninformed vote can be worse than no vote at all.

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Eric Lees
Eric Lees2 years ago

No
Do you really want someone to vote that is not even willing to make the effort to register to vote?

We are in this mess due to too many people voting that have no clue what they are voting for or against. Voter ignorance is our biggest voting issue.

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Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld2 years ago

Marc P.,

Just a few examples:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/probe-looks-at-how-dead-virginians-came-to-be-registered-to-vote-in-harrisonburg/2016/10/05/8d07662e-872b-11e6-ac72-a29979381495_story.html

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/guybenson/2016/05/25/cbs-uncovers-voter-fraud-in-la-n2168330

http://www.lifezette.com/polizette/illegal-voters-uncovered-philly-just-tip-iceberg/

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/crime/2016/10/04/state-police-raid-indy-office-growing-voter-fraud-case/91540816/

http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2015/03/44_registered_ohio_voters_ille.html

http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/10/more_than_1000_voted_illegally_in_just_8_localities_in_virginia.html

http://www.usanewsinsider.com/california-signs-law-allowing-illegals-vote/

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Margie FOURIE
Margie FOURIE2 years ago

NO. Thank you

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Valerie L.
Valerie L2 years ago

I like the idea of automatic voter registration.

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