Equal Voting Rights Still In Question in 2009

Cross-Posted at Project Vote's Voting Matter's Blog

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

by Erin Ferns

After the voters spoke last November by turning out in record numbers, we enter a new year with a new president and multiple new agendas for election administration in the states that bring both excitement and concern from voting rights advocates. Whether the discussion is about  upholding the landmark Voting Rights Act, the disenfranchisement that comes with voter ID, or even the distribution of provisional ballots, the conclusion remains the same: we should work to protect and facilitate every eligible citizens' right to vote, not impede it.

There's more...

America Can Do a Better Job at Registering Voters

Cross-Posted at Project Vote's Voting Matter's Blog

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

by Erin Ferns

Despite the 2008 election showing that the minority and low-income voting bloc is quickly growing, the effort to keep voters from actually casting a ballot persists through the introduction and passage of restrictive election reforms, wrote syndicated columnist and former state representative, William A. Collins in a recent opinion piece. "As we all know, becoming and remaining a voter is not just a theoretical exercise. At least in this country that right is hotly contested in hard-fought political combat. He who controls the voter lists often controls the election."

There's more...

Battleground States See Pervasive Systemic Efforts to Block the Vote

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

"I think the days of ballot box stuffing are more or less gone." - Allen Raymond, former GOP operative

Voter fraud by individuals has been a major partisan debate in recent elections, inspiring multiple states to consider or pass laws that purport to stop it, including "no-match, no-vote" list maintenance procedures and strict voter ID  requirements. Despite federal findings that the act of casting an illegal ballot is exceedingly rare, partisans often cite large scale voter registration drives as voter fraud culprits, and perpetuate the myth of voter fraud by spreading the fear that such votes cancel out legitimate ones. With rising registration rates - particularly among historically underrepresented Americans - it is no surprise that partisans are spreading this myth, and the media often perpetuates the hysteria by printing stories on the small numbers of bad registration cards submitted by large scale voter registration drives (including the 1.2 million submitted by Project Vote voter registration partner, ACORN).

There's more...

Veterans Advocates Skeptical Of New V.A. Registration Policies

Cross-posted at Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Weekly Voting Rights News Update

By Erin Ferns

We recently wrote about the Department of Veterans Affairs decision to open its facilities to voter registration drives after months of urging by voting rights groups and elected officials. This week, however, "VA voter suppression continues," as AlterNet's Steven Rosenfeld wrote Tuesday, with voter registration efforts being blocked in California and the VA general counsel criticizing the pending Veterans Voting Support Act (S. 3308), which would bolster federal protection of voter registration opportunities for all wounded veterans. With just three weeks left to register voters in most states, advocates say now is the time to support voter registration efforts in VA facilities and, most importantly, it needs to be explicitly protected from now on through federal law.

There's more...

Election Day Registration

Conventional wisdom states that low turnout rates are evidence that young people are less engaged than older Americans in civic life.  Yet with high rates of volunteerism and increasing engagement, this is clearly wrong.  Something else is going on.  As the Brennan Center, Demos, and even Rolling Stone have ably chronicled, young people - particularly students - face high barriers to entry for participating in the political process.

Since the 1970's and 80's, many university towns - particularly small towns in rural areas, where the students vastly outnumber local populations - have actively sought to disenfranchise students.  This has taken a variety of forms including closing polling places on campuses, declaring dormitories to be ineligible as a "permanent places of residence," and regulations necessitating that a student's place of residence and drivers license address match - a near impossibility for students.  Barriers like these are compounded by a problem that all young people typically face - we are a highly mobile bunch, switching residences, towns, even states from year to year as we jump jobs and apartments.  

If we want young people participating in politics, we should work to ensure that the system actually encourages and facilitates that participation.  One way to do that is Election Day Registration.  To be sure, it won't solve all of the problems I mentioned that prevent young people from voting, but it would be a huge step in the right direction.

In 2006, seven states employed Election Day Registration - Idaho, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming. According to Demos (pdf), those seven states consistently see some of the highest rates of turnout in the country (see graph below).  In 2006, turnout in EDR states was 48.7% vs. an average of 38.2% in non EDR states.  

EDR Turnout

Switching back to young voters, it is estimated that Election Day Registration could increase youth turnout by as much as 14%.  To put that into perspective, the massive turnout increase among young voters that we saw in 2004 represented only an 11% overall increase. If we had EDR in all 50 states, and young voters continued to vote 2-1 in favor of Democrats, we'd likely see a Democratic landslide that would dwarf last year's blue wave.  

More on the flip.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads