Monday, June 22, 2015

Automatic Voter Registration

I'm generally not a political person, and I'm definitely not interested in discussing politics with people. But this post is just about voting, it has nothing to do with politics.

Nearly 60 MILLION Americans who are eligible to vote, aren't even registered.  In case you're wondering, that's 60 million out of 206 million.  That's right, over one quarter of the American adults over the age of 18 haven't even bothered to register.  And according to Rock the Vote 12,000 Americans turn 18 every day.  So why don't these people register to vote?

Let me stop you before you start trying to figure out the answer to that one.  Because it doesn't really matter.  Candidates spend tons of money trying to persuade you to vote for them, many organizations - including Rock the Vote and MTV - spend tons of money trying to persuade you to vote for anyone, and Rock the Vote and others are spending money trying to persuade unregistered voters to register, so that they at least have the option of voting.  That's tons and tons and tons of money.

A politicion received a lot of attention when she recently called for universal automatic voter registration.  And my thought was 'Hey!  What a great idea!  How come no one thought of this before?' But then I decided I didn't care why no one had thought of it before, because now that the topic had come up.. we should just do it.

Except that it turns out not everyone thinks this is a good idea.

A number of politicians have gone on record as being opposed to this suggestion, arguing that it .. wait, what was it?  Oh yeah, since being registered to vote means your age and address now become public record, it's an invasion of your privacy.  Yeah, right.  As if you can't get the age and address of almost anyone, on the internet.
And one of the politicians said that it should be a matter of choice, not a mandate.  Really?  We're not forcing anyone to vote... they still have a choice whether they vote or not.
And apparently there has been some discussion as to whether people should be required to exercise their responsibility to register, in order to exercise their right to vote.  Again - really?  Why don't we just leave it that they have the right to vote?  Do we really need this extra layer of paperwork?

So.. let's see... the only requirements to vote  (other then minor things like 'not being a felon') are a minimum age, and the act of registration.  We want more people to vote.  Implementing automatic voter registration would remove an obstacle to voting.

Seems like the math is pretty simple.  Automatic voter registration = more registered voters.  More registered voters = more people who might vote.  If we implement automatic voter registration, now all we have to worry about is making people care enough about the issues that they go to the polls.

I vote for automatic voter registration, and I vote for more tea.  Very different issues, but both - in their own way - important to me.


  1. Not sure if this happens everywhere but in Idaho we can register when we go to vote and it's a simple process, so not registering isn't really an issue here. I don't think it's primarily the registration process that stops voters, it's apathy. Or the thought that it doesn't matter what we do, things won't change. Which is not true but some people believe it.

  2. Sadly, not everyone wants everyone to vote. The less involved, if/when they get involved, tend to vote one direction. So the other direction world prefer that they just stay home and not register and not vote. (trying to make this as non-specific as possible, since you don't like political discussions)

  3. We're not the only country to face this question. An Australian told me a few years ago that if their registered voters (and I do not know the registration process) do not vote they are fined. And, she said the fine was small enough that she would pay it to keep from voting. That was a new one to me!