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Last week, the always insightful Rick Hasen of the Election Law blog penned a piece in Salon Slate regarding the need for a simplified, fair, and universal voter registration system. The entire piece is a must read, but this part was particularly pragmatic, and it reiterates ideas that many of us in the election reform community have been advocating for a while:

The solution is to take the job of voter registration for federal elections out of the hands of third parties (and out of the hands of the counties and states) and give it to the federal government. The Constitution grants Congress wide authority over congressional elections. The next president should propose legislation to have the Census Bureau, when it conducts the 2010 census, also register all eligible voters who wish to be registered for future federal elections. High-school seniors could be signed up as well so that they would be registered to vote on their 18th birthday. When people submit change-of-address cards to the post office, election officials would also change their registration information.

This change would eliminate most voter registration fraud. Government employees would not have an incentive to pad registration lists with additional people in order to keep their jobs. The system would also eliminate the need for matches between state databases, a problem that has proved so troublesome because of the bad quality of the data. The federal government could assign each person a unique voter-identification number, which would remain the same regardless of where the voter moves. The unique ID would prevent people from voting in two jurisdictions, such as snowbirds who might be tempted to vote in Florida and New York. States would not have to use the system for their state and local elections, but most would choose to do so because of the cost savings.

In the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Rob Richie and Adam Fogel of FairVote make a similar point (emphasis added):

Blaming ACORN for our voter registration system is a classic failure of missing the forest for the trees. Amidst accusations of ACORN putting our democracy in jeopardy, few are asking why private groups are even in the business of voter registration drives. The answer is that the United States is one of the few democracies where the federal government doesn’t assume responsibility for establishing full and accurate voter rolls — and it just isn’t working.

[...] Nearly a third of eligible voters aren’t registered to vote and our turnout rates are among the lowest in the world. [...] The problem is our "opt-in," self-initiated voter registration system. Right now the onus is on citizens to update their information, ensure correct spelling and cancel old registrations when they move. [...]

Implementing a few common sense reforms would go a long way in solving our voter registration problems and lessen the necessity of groups seeking to register so many new voters every four years.

One example is seeking to register every citizen before they reach voting age by following the lead of Hawaii and Florida in allowing 16-year-olds to register to vote, with their names automatically added to the voter rolls when they reach 18. This change would ideally be twinned with systematic registration of young people in high schools and at driver’s license agencies and "voter’s ed" classes on the mechanics of participation in communities. Other sensible proposals include Election Day registration and moving to making voter registration permanent through automatic updates of registration with changes of address.

More broadly, it’s time for the government to take on the responsibility of establishing full and accurate voter rolls. This goal is not rocket science — it’s the international norm and the very best way to prevent voter registration fraud and our low rates of voter registration.

This is the supreme blowback resulting from the GOP's ACORN smear.  By so vigorously highlighting the very real problems with third-party registration model, the GOP has unwittingly provided the best argument in favor of having the government step in and facilitate a universal registration system. And so, the irony is that in trying to suppress voter turnout by calling even valid registrations into question, Republicans have opened the door to a long-overdue discussion on how best to reform our inherently flawed voter registration system in order to ensure that every American who has the right to vote may do so without redtape barriers.

Universal registration is one of the top items on what we're can call a Voter's Bill of Rights that should be embraced by Congress after the election (more on this in the weeks to follow, but it would include, among other things, ballot simplification, auditable paper trails, etc.).

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:30 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If this election has proved anyhing, (17+ / 0-)

    It's that the more people vote, the more the will of the people is expressed.

    We've got one party that wants fewer people to vote, and one party that wants more people to vote. So expect any efforts toward universal registration to meet some resistance!

    Next week's headline: "Firm majority of Americans are radicals, support socialism."

    by Shelbyville Manhattan on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:32:03 AM PDT

    •  Criminalize voter suppression (16+ / 0-)

      All these caging, misdirection, illegal challenge tactics are attempts to deprive citizens of a precious right.  Those attempts should be treated as seriously as attempts to deprive citizens of property, and should be criminalized with felony penalties for the more serious offenses.

      I can't expect to live in a democracy if I'm not prepared to do the work of being a citizen.

      by Dallasdoc on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:38:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It makes sense to Federalize (9+ / 0-)

        both registration and criminality of suppression.  Voting is both a RIGHT and a RESPONSIBILITY central to our vision of how this country operates.

        Since it's literally VITAL to our vision of our country, let's treat it as such.

        ...there is the bottom of the ocean --Talking Heads

        by MsGrin on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:48:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I completely agree (4+ / 0-)

          I have lived in the USA and Canada and have voted in both countries.  The way Canada holds their elections is far superior to our way. A person in Victoria, BC will vote the same way as someone in Saint John, Newfoundland.  It is all governed over by Elections Canada.  We here in the USA need the same kind of INDEPENDENT federal election agency,

          Free Tibet! Intrade prediction market President Obama- 88% President McCain- 12%

          by Calev on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:03:21 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Canadian experience is instructive (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RAST, mmacdDE, bluemonk, twigg

            I've also lived and worked on campaigns in both countries, and totally concur

            Canadian elections never have the kind of confusion we see far too often in US elections over issues such as registration, vote counts, provisional ballots, ballot design, challenged voters, etc.

            Why is that?

            First, as you point out, Elections Canada is a completely independent non-partisan agency - it is universally trusted by all parties, and is a highly efficient and professional operation.

            Second, it is a single national system coast-to-coast-to-coast (Canadians consider the Arctic Ocean our 3rd coast)... the election is conducted under the same rules everywhere, the ballot design is the same everywhere, the voter lists are maintained in the same way, etc. No partisan Secretary of States or local election boards playing games with things, no butterfly ballots, no selective purges of voters, etc.

            Third, voter registration is done by the government before each election -- the process is called "enumeration" and it means that rather than voters having to take the initiative to register, the government creates a single voters list, even going door to door to establish eligibility (someone who is left out can ask to be added to the list). This system is highly effective, and results in a (nearly) universal registration list.

            Fourth, all voting is done by paper ballot -- no touch screen, no chads, etc... the count of the ballot is observed by representatives of all parties, and the results are a transparent counting system.

            Perhaps even more amazing, this all happens in a campaign of under 2 months from the time an election is called. In October Canadians went to the polls and the election went completely smoothly, and Canadians had complete confidence in the integrity and outcome of the election.

            If only we could say the same thing will be true in the US.

            Once social change begins,it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read...You cannot oppress people who are not afraid anymore.

            by terjeanderson on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:32:24 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Ultimate slap in the face to the GOP (4+ / 0-)

          The states rights wing of the GOP would go balistic.  Registering voters is one of their few remaining control points.  

          I think you would have a huge fight, I can see the slogans now:  Federal government to "force" you to register.

          Federal government want to know where you live and if you move!

          Keep the federal government out of Alaskan politics (how many states would keep separate voter rolls for local elections?). The militias would be putting on fancy dress and building bunkers.

          Several things strike me as odd with the present mish-mash of voter registration, voting methods and voter laws across the country.  You have to bring photo Identification cards, except in states where you dont, but we do not have a national ID card, and teh right wing would never accede to their intorduction.  We dont all vote the same way, despite the fact that we are voting for the same thing (president) some punch cards some touch screens, some pull levers, and some mark a piece of paper, what happened to equal protection and equal rights.  

          The system is broken, the right wing screams about fraud and the actions of those working within the system to do the right thing.  The actual fix is some thing that the rigth wing (especially the libertarians) would not like.

          there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

          by Bloke on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:07:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The photo ID thing is bunk, really (0+ / 0-)

            because you don't have to be a citizen to get a photo ID. Legal residents have them, AND have SSN to boot. Unless you have to show a birth certificate or citizenship papers to register, there's nothing to stop someone from filling out the voter registration form, checking that they're a citizen when they're just a legal resident, and the checks that are done would show all the 'right' info - SSN, photo ID, tax records, etc.

            Now, I wouldn't be horrendously upset if permanent legal residents were allowed to vote - they pay taxes and live here, so they do have a vested interest in how things are run - but that's not how the rules are set up.

            The other thing that really drives me nuts is the to-do over college students. They should be able to register where they want, but right now, unless they're going to school in the same state, there's no cross checking and it's VERY possible, even likely, that they can wind up registered in BOTH places.

            Same with people with multiple residences - they can register in both, and unless they happen to stop voting in one or tell them, nobody would even know.

            While it's possible they could even vote in both places, I doubt many people even think about that. But it DOES screw up the rolls, and makes the turnout numbers look worse than they most likely are.

            •  I had both SS# and DL for 9 yrs (0+ / 0-)

              before I became a citizen.  Probably the single biggest thing that stops non citizens voting is the felony conviction.  Look it is very easy to detect, it's your name and address on the voter rolls, and if caught you will be convicted, then deported.  Those of us who have families here, and like me who were working towards citizenship know that it's one strike and you are out, I mean out of the country and bared from returning or from gaining citizenship, ever.  It simply is not worth it.  

              there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

              by Bloke on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 12:37:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Don't agree.. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Yamara, kenmarable

          ...with respect to registration.  If federal authorities are responsible for registrations, rather than the voters, it would be easy enough for some future GOP regime to politicize the process the way they did the Justice Department, EPA, and other federal agencies.  And with registration taken out of the hands of the public, we'd have less recourse for private action for Democratic ergistration than we do now.

          It's messy, but let's stick with opt-in registration.

          The America I knew and loved is finally dead at the hands of bipartisanship.

          by TheOrchid on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:45:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Federal authorities shouldn't be in charge (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mmacdDE, Yamara

            of national registration.  It should be an independent agency, not aligned with any political party and not appointed by the executive branch.  Other countries manage this without a takeover of the process by political influence, and if Americans can get over their provincialism, I'm sure we could learn from other countries' experience.

            "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

            by SueDe on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:59:00 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  ok, just because the DOJ is rife with fraud (0+ / 0-)

              doesn't mean that the entire government is rotten.  The federal body could be run by appointees from the governors of all 50 states or some such nonsense.  But it should be federalized and taken entirely out of the hands of state officials.

          •  Right - Opt-in is better (0+ / 0-)

            It is a common mistake to make things too easy for the next generation. Imagine a future George Bush with control of that database.

            My British girlfriend has evinced fears that Bush could "cancel" the election-- but because of the widespread distrubution of control, a centralized shutdown is impossible. The closest they can come is creative suppression like we've been seeng, resulting in the anger that is winning us support now. The transparency is built-in, if we put our eyes out there to see it. A centralized database might not allow for that.

            It has also allowed for Kos' gatecrashing and renewed interest in particpation at the local level. This kind of local control is a feature, not a bug, of democracy. It would be a huge mistake to relinquish this advantage of We the People.

            What we do need are better and stricter federal guidelines. Mandatory paper ballots. But a backdoor National ID card via the voter registration drive is the last thing we should be pushing for.

            "To such thinking you have only to say 'the land you loved is doomed' to excuse any treachery, indeed to glorify it." -Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories, 1938.

            by Yamara on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:08:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It isn't a *feature of democracy* (0+ / 0-)

              When it can be so easily gerrymandered.

              It's a bug, and it needs squishing.

              You don't need an ID card, you have a SS#

              We do not forgive our candidates their humanity, therefore we compel them to appear inhuman

              by twigg on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:54:12 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  The bug is the limited number of Congresspeople (0+ / 0-)

                The House has an arbitrary number of members, last set in the early 20th Century.

                If representation were reset to be more balanced, gerrymandering would become far less of an issue, and local interest would soar. Also, the electoral college would make more sense again.

                "To such thinking you have only to say 'the land you loved is doomed' to excuse any treachery, indeed to glorify it." -Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories, 1938.

                by Yamara on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 12:31:28 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Electoral College (0+ / 0-)

                  makes no sense anyway.

                  It's a National Poll of citizens views. First Past The Post would be fairer.

                  The argument that California would have more say than, say, Oklahoma, is bogus. More people live in California, why should they be held to ransom by Oklahoma .... and so it goes on.

                  Automatic, compulsory registration works. Period. Suggestions that it's not the American Way, or other concern troll arguments don't hold water. The way it is done here is helpful to one side only, and that is the sole reason that it hasn't changed.

                  We do not forgive our candidates their humanity, therefore we compel them to appear inhuman

                  by twigg on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 03:38:18 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  It doesn't work like this (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            RAST, hotwawu

            You are anticipating a problem that doesn't exist, then suggesting we stick with a deeply flawed system that has real problems that do exist.

            Election Commissions are bi-partisan, Govt. sponsored agencies, and they work.

            We do not forgive our candidates their humanity, therefore we compel them to appear inhuman

            by twigg on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:52:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  why stop at registration? (0+ / 0-)

          there is no good reason why the entire election itself should not be standardized at the federal level.  Especially now, when it's so eminently clear that DRE touchscreen vote machines are part of the problem not part of the solution.  

          28th Amendment: federalize the Presidential election, end the electoral college, apportion votes by percentage of the popular vote within each state, new president takes office within a week of the election.

          •  I agree in some ways with the changeover (0+ / 0-)

            it definitely needs to be faster. I can see having the swearing in after a week or so, and allowing the transition team to work with the existing WH staff until the official inauguration, which would be at the same time it is now.

            It wouldn't really change much, except there wouldn't be any time for the lame duck to sabotage anything.

        •  also need a uniform system of voting (0+ / 0-)

          so it is the same wherever you live.  moving wouldn't change the method of voting, ballot layout or even how you choose your candidate (fill in bubble, draw a line, etc.)

          I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

          by blue drop on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 02:32:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm thinking it should be a very serious federal (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:


        Like treason.

        We are all Droogie. F**K the AP

        by wrights on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:04:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's Treason (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dallasdoc, Yamara
        All these caging, misdirection, illegal challenge tactics are attempts to deprive citizens of a precious right.  Those attempts should be treated as seriously as attempts to deprive citizens of property

        Property, shmroperty. Every government in history has treated an attempt (by any means other than vote fraud) to replace the legitimate head of state with a usurper as treason, and punished it acccordingly.

        Memo to McCain/Palin Campaign: The states of "Delusion," "Denial," and "Desperation" have no electoral votes.

        by stevemb on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:09:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Pay people when they vote (4+ / 0-)

      I think every local government should have a 50 dollar per adult in the household fee added to their property tax.

      If you vote (every 2 years) you are handed a nice new 100 dollar bill if you don't youget mothing which means you pay higher taxes than those who participate in their Democracy.

      by ctkeith on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:46:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Correct: (4+ / 0-)

      So expect any efforts toward universal registration to meet some resistance

      "Universal" anything is anathema to the Repubs--they will oppose it furiously; claiming "socialism" or "communism" or some other crap.

      Their  likely opposition will be proof that it is a great idea.

      The White House will be The People's House--B.Obama

      by Phil S 33 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:46:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Democratic Party can really make a difference (0+ / 0-)

      I'm so glad to see this discussed, and it would be fantastic for an Obama administration to make this issue a priority.

      It's such a fundamental issue of fairness and good government, apparently only Democrats can make it happen.

      If a Voter Bill of Rights could actually happen, it would be amazing!

      Go Obama!

      "We already won the war, it's the occupation that's killing us."

      by cal in cali on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:42:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  republicans will resist it (0+ / 0-)

      So expect any efforts toward universal registration to meet some resistance!

      they'll refer to it as "socialized registration"

  •  Some countries make it mandatory to vote. (4+ / 0-)
    I know we don't like the word "mandatory," but I think it's a good idea.

    You can steal our signs, but you can't steal our vote! OBAMA/BIDEN '08!

    by Blue Waters Run Deep on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:32:50 AM PDT

    •  The first democracy was mandatory (3+ / 0-)

      They did it that way in Athens.

      Next week's headline: "Firm majority of Americans are radicals, support socialism."

      by Shelbyville Manhattan on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:34:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Mandatory is too extreme. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, Phil S 33, Jack Williams

      There would be a huge outcry over 'mandatory' voting, and nothing would change at all.

      Of course it hurts - you're getting screwed by an elephant.

      by sean oliver on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:41:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Breathing is my right, as is my voting. (0+ / 0-)

        I am required to breathe to live.

        I am required to vote to live -increasingly, literally, the way things have gone these last eight years. If all of us had voted, we may not have had these last eight horrible years.

        If we don't like the word "mandatory" then think of it like our "oxygen in order to live."

        You can steal our signs, but you can't steal our vote! OBAMA/BIDEN '08!

        by Blue Waters Run Deep on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:45:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I don't want people just checking boxes (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sean oliver, Jack Williams

        without considering what they are voting for - we've enough of that already without it being mandatory.

        •  There is a difference... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          sean oliver

          We are talking about making voter registration mandatory, but not voting mandatory. Maybe we could make the driver's license double as a registration card, given that we tighten up the security of the licensing process, of course.

          "...Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled." Richard Feynman

          by QuestionAuthority on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:00:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not everyone who has a driver's license (0+ / 0-)

            is a citizen, or over 18. I can see using the DMV as the clearing house for voter registration. That makes a lot of sense - they already have the address info, it would be easy enough to add a box to indicate if you're eligible to vote, and that would be that.

            Then if you move and get a license somewhere else, the new state notifies the old one, your registration is purged, and you don't wind up registered in multiple places.

            You do realize, however, that for most college students this would mean they WOULD NOT vote at their campus, but from their home address. Unless they were intending to change their drivers license, and state of residence...

          •  I would approve of mandatory registration. (0+ / 0-)

            But registration should be automatic when a person becomes 18 anyway. There should not be a barrier of red tape just to register.

            Of course it hurts - you're getting screwed by an elephant.

            by sean oliver on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 12:59:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  I'm with you. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mmacdDE, wishingwell

        My concern is that it would remove people's ability to not register and/or not vote for ideological reasons, for protest purposes, etc.

        I think it should just be changed to an opt-out system. You are registered unless you wish to opt out. If you're registered, you must opt out of voting. That might mean simply that you do not bother to go down on election day and vote, in your state. Or, like in Oregon, it might mean that while you receive a ballot like everyone else, you  just choose not to use it.

        If the decision to not register or vote is about making  a statement, people have to be able to make that statement.

      •  Some people make a statement by not voting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sean oliver

        Is it a good statement? Probably not. But it's still a statement and you can't take that away from people.

    •  Rather than call it a mandate, call it a routine (0+ / 0-)

      process of the census, or of graduating from high school, or enlisting in the armed services, etc. etc. At some point, if you are not already registered, it would be done for you. I believe many do not vote because they are intimidated by the registration process or simply too indifferent. If registration was done for them, it could be an incentive to vote. "Democracy depends on it" should be the mantra, rather than "universal".

    •  ... (0+ / 0-)

      I like the idea of registration and voting being opt-out rather than opt-in.

      I don't want to take away anyone's ability to protest by not registering and/or not voting.

    •  Jury Duty list taken from voter registration (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      causes some people to not register to vote. We have all encountered these people. And some of them follow politics, some seem politically aware, but then will say they will not register to vote because they do not want to get called up for jury duty.

      If Jury Duty lists were compiled in another manner ( like from tax rolls as around here, it is not long after one moves that the tax assessor does not find them and get them on the local tax list).

      •  There's another way around that (0+ / 0-)

        most people wouldn't mind being on jury duty - but they can't afford it. If you don't get paid from your regular job, or have to find day care for your kids, it's a real hardship. Especially if the period of jury duty is for months, rather than a week or so.

        So you make it a law that the local/state/fed/ has to pay whatever wages you would lose, up to a max of $15/hr, and/or provide day care services at the courthouse free of charge to those who require them. They already provide a small stipend, this would just up that. And your employer can't fire you for being on jury duty, no matter how long you're out.

        Some places really do need the workers there - my son works at a power plant, and he always gets out of jury duty. His employer sends a letter stating that he's essential personnel, and he gets excused. (I think there's an unwritten 'if you don't excuse him and the power goes out, it's on YOU' in there)

  •  Just for the sake of starting a conversation, (7+ / 0-)

    I was thinking about mandatory voting the other day, like they have in Australia. As I understand it, election day is a holiday and nobody works, but everyone must vote.


    Next week's headline: "Firm majority of Americans are radicals, support socialism."

    by Shelbyville Manhattan on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:33:18 AM PDT

  •  Dumb question... (11+ / 0-)

    Why do we have "voter registration"???  Why not just allow anyone with a drivers license to vote, and then allow all others to prove their citizenship in some other way - on voting day.

    Sorry.  dumb question.

    You can never sink so low in life that you can't be a bad example for somebody. - My Dad.

    by briefer on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:33:43 AM PDT

    •  There are no dumb questions... (8+ / 0-)

      unless you see them on the Fox News ticker or as a headline in the NY Post.


    •  NOT a dumb question;what we have is a dumb POLICY (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jack Williams, briefer, Amber6541, B Unis

      You can steal our signs, but you can't steal our vote! OBAMA/BIDEN '08!

      by Blue Waters Run Deep on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:40:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  A few reasons - (7+ / 0-)
      * Not all eligible voters drive * Not all eligible voters even have a state ID

      primarily, this would penalize the elderly, the very young, and the poor.

      "The goal of an argument should not be victory, but progress." - my fortune cookie

      by Black Leather Rain on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:40:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The main reason for advance registration... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Adam B, briefer to make the line go faster on Election Day.

      In Minnesota, anyone not already registered can register at the polls on Election Day.

      •  And to try to make sure no one votes twice. nt (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wishingwell, briefer
        •  Registration... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          You need to make sure people aren't going to other precincts to vote. You could own multiple houses and use multiple water bills to fraudulently vote multiple times.

          So, I'm in favor of a central list.

          I heard a guy the other day on XMPR talking about how the big thing was adequately FUNDING elections. He mentioned that in North Carolina, we've done a good job of funding the election process and as a result, it's been pretty smooth sailing so far.

          Other states have deliberately held back on funding (Florida) elections and obviously, are having a hard time.

          I also think there's something to be said about the way that England runs their elections.

          It is a national holiday and bank tellers are the ones who count the ballots. Paper ballots and they do the counts in places where anyone who wants to can come and watch the process.

          The difference, of course, is that in England, you don't vote for candidates, you vote for the ballot must be much simpler.

          •  It is not a national holiday in the UK (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mmacdDE, briefer

            Most people work election day, schools are closed because they are used as polling stations and whilst many of those used to count ballots are indeed bank tellers not every one is.   I once helped count ballots in Sevenoaks, Kent, and I am not a bank teller.  Typically the poll station workers are either teachers (they have the day off) or local governemtn employees, but any one can apply and most are accepted, lots of retirees just like in the US.

            The count typically starts arround 9 pm and bank tellers are the best becasue they are used to ounting and sorting paper.  I have not voted in the UK for many years but I think they still use an entirly paper system.  Generally the first count is completed by about 2 am some stragglers going to 4, recounts can take a couple of days.

            there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

            by Bloke on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:18:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I would say use Tax returns for verification but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            very low income and some disabled do not pay taxes. My sister in law for instance is disabled and she does not have to file taxes each year.

          •  In Britain (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            No you vote for a candidate in the UK, not for a party. Wish polling day was a national holiday, but it isnt so. But you are right about the counting by bank tellers. And if there is a discrepency of ONE vote in a single ballot box between teh number of papers expected and what has been counted a legal declaration has to be made explaining this.

            Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

            by saugatojas on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:52:53 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  recent London elections used optical scan ballots (0+ / 0-)

            instead of hand counting.  They just filled a room at City Hall with standard hopper-fed document scanners, and had software on the PCs which looked at the images and counted the votes.

            Paul Crowley aka "ciphergoth"

            by ciphergoth on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:10:13 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Lots of non-citizens have drivers licenses (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, briefer

      I had a green card for 9 years before I was naturalized.  That included SS# and driving license.  I got a license when I first came here on an L1B visa.  To vote would have been illegal and i would have been subject to felony penalty (including deportation) but just holdign a driving license does not prove citizenship.

      there is only one reality, republicans just forget at times

      by Bloke on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:12:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't get it either. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Why do we need voter registration? We all have a social security number, agencies can use that information to verify all types of information about us. Are we eligible to vote because of our age, citizenship or felony conviction status is a simple enough query to tie to our SSN, why don't we do this? Eliminate registration altogether to cut out the middle man and save money and time.

      You could show up to vote on Nov. 4, provide your SSN and ID, the poll worker enters this info into their database and issues you a ballot, assuming that we meet the criteria (at the same time you are marked as having been issued a ballot for that election, therefore you cannot vote twice).

      Better yet, your ballot is mailed to you prior to the election, along with a SASE. Fill it out and drop it back in the mailbox. Done.

      This isn't rocket surgery.

      •  Because non-citizens (0+ / 0-)

        have SSN too. Legal residents do, they get one if they're eligible to work here.

        They also file taxes. And drive.

        •  Sooo... (0+ / 0-)

          You create a database of information out there. You enter a person's SSN into the database and up comes the following information:

          Citizen? Y/N
          Convicted Felon? Y/N
          Age 18? Y/N
          Ballot issued in this election? Y/N

          I don't see the issue here. Maybe it would be difficult to create? I don't really think so. You can already use a person's SSN to find most of this information.

          I think that it's a pretty weak excuse to say that SSN's are issued to everybody, therefore we need to issue ANOTHER number. Just use what we have and make the system work.

    •  A drivers license doesn't prove citizenship (0+ / 0-)

      Nor does a SSN. Legal residents have those, and pay taxes too. They're not citizens, and can't vote, but they have all those things.

      All a drivers license does is prove you passed the test, and that you're going by that name. It doesn't necessarily prove you live there (you could have moved and not changed it), and it doesn't prove you're a citizen.

  •  Exactly, make it a non-partisan national (11+ / 0-)

    outfit.  That is what they do in Canada, it is called "Elections Canada".  They are the ones who run the election, make sure all the parties are following the election laws, do the investigations into people or parties that don't follow the elections laws, and they are the ones who go door to door registering voters.  

  •  If they can figure out how to get every American (12+ / 0-)

    to pay taxes (well, 99.8% of us), then they can figure out how to get us all registered to vote.

  •  Could this actually happen? (2+ / 0-)

    It's not easy being a Floridian: PS I'm a lawYER now; no longer a lawSTUDENT.

    by lawstudent922 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:34:53 AM PDT

  •  Note that Republicans only want to Universalize (4+ / 0-)

    elements of control.


  •  This is a great idea (4+ / 0-)

    Other countries do it already. In Canada for instance, income tax returns are used to update the voting registration. As long as you create an infrastructure to update registrations prior to each election (and register new citizens and young adults), this would help immensely.

    John McCain Defends Bush's Iraq Strategy.

    by ClaudeB on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:35:23 AM PDT

    •  Other countries also (6+ / 0-)

      require voting by law and hold elections on the weekends or declare a holiday.  There are lots of ways to increase participation.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

      by accumbens on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:39:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Turnout decreases in other countries too (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        accumbens, Jack Williams

        I'm not a supporter of mandatory voting, but you have to admit that turnout is down in most industrialized countries. Two weeks ago, only 61.1% of Canadians voted in the federal election. Turnout rates are also down in France, the UK, etc.

        John McCain Defends Bush's Iraq Strategy.

        by ClaudeB on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:42:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wonder why other than jury duty lists are (0+ / 0-)

          often complied from voter lists. Is that true in other countries? As I have been a member of the League of Women Voters for a long time and we run into this all the time.

          I would register to vote and I would love to vote but I do not want called up for jury duty.

          There is an aversion to jury duty in this country that I cannot figure out. Yes it is a hassle but most employers will either pay you for the day or if the wages are better for jury duty, you get those wages. Teachers in the summer get both that pay and jury pay ( my sister did and she was able to request serviing on a jury only during the summers due to being head coach of 2 sports during the school year )

          •  A lot of people (0+ / 0-)

            do NOT get paid when they're on jury duty, and if you have kids, YOU have to pay for day care. The pay is basically nothing - the last time I got called (this past summer) it was $10/day, and only if you actually have to show up, which you may not.

            So if you have an hourly job (say retail) and you can't tell your employer what days you'll be out (because you don't know until the night before), they won't schedule you - and you won't get paid. If you don't get called for jury duty that day, you don't get the piddly $10 they pay you either.

            Which means you're out a week's pay at least - if the jury duty obligation is longer than that, it's even worse.

            If it was just a day, most people would be OK. But it's RARELY a day, it's usually a week AT LEAST, and for some juries, it might be six weeks. Get a big trial, and you might be on that jury for a few MONTHS.

            Very few employers are going to pay you for that length of time if you're not there.

            •  my husband works retail and they paid him for the (0+ / 0-)

              day like it was a vacation day. Of course, he is a fulltime employee and it is Lowes. Lowes has great benefits and offers a good package of sick and vacation days that is generous.

            •  I was told by my employer that the law states the (0+ / 0-)

              employee must be given that time off and if they are not called in on particular day but still on call for jury duty, the employer has to pay them for that day if they are a fulltime employee.

              Maybe my boss does not know the law or he believed that to be true. Or maybe some states and companies are different. My husband works for Lowes and they said they would pay him for anyday he is on call for jury duty.

            •  then voter lists should not be used for jury duty (0+ / 0-)

              let them use tax return records or something else.

              As I do hate seeing so many people refusing to register to vote for fear of being called for jury duty. They believe this is how they get on the list. I am not sure that is all that is used by the courts.

    •  yes as IRS forms would be able to exclude (0+ / 0-)

      Non citizens right? Non citizens do not have Social Security numbers when they file taxes, right?

  •  indeed (3+ / 0-)

    in my dream world, I would also like to see a constitutional amendment making clear that there is a federal right to vote, to clear up the suggestions to the contrary in Bush v. Gore and elsewhere.  Such an amendment has been proposed by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), I believe.  

    Unfortunately, one of our two major political parties is still dedicated purging voter rolls and stopping people from voting, so this won't be an easy fight even under President Obama and a Democratic congress.  It must be done, though.

    I am aware of all internet traditions

    by mcfly on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:35:30 AM PDT

  •  I have been thinking about this for a while (2+ / 0-)

    And may propose it here in California. If anyone has any more links to discussion about the topic that would be fab.

    Also, georgia, do you have a link to Hansen's Salon article?

    I'm not part of a redneck agenda - Green Day
    Neither is California High Speed Rail

    by eugene on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:36:32 AM PDT

  •  Why can't all citizens by default be registered (8+ / 0-)

    by the IRS using social security data ?  They know your name, your DOB, your address.

    Leave the party affiliation to party databases (i.e. voluntary) but ensure all citizens, by default, receive a voter registration card.

    Government for the people, by the people

    by axel000 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:36:54 AM PDT

    •  Social Security is not citizenship dependent. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, kanuk, CParis, Jack Williams

      Also, it's a voluntary system.  

      How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

      by hannah on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:39:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  would miss people who do not file tax returns (2+ / 0-)

      like students, some very poor

      What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. ~ Dan Quayle

      by CParis on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:40:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  don't the very poor (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jack Williams

        register with their social security number to receive social security benefits ??

        Government for the people, by the people

        by axel000 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:42:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Social Security Administration is separate agency (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell, Jack Williams

          from Internal Revenue Service.  And both are woefully out of date when it comes to matching data - lack of investment in computing, etc.

          What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. ~ Dan Quayle

          by CParis on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:45:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sorry to say this but (0+ / 0-)

          what the hell kind of country do you think we live in?

          don't the very poor register with their social security number to receive social security benefits ??

          Nope. The US does very little for the poor.
          The very poor do not get anything from the Fed Govt except food stamps.
          That's it. This is the Reagan-Clinton "welfare reform" legacy.
          The only Fed-funded cash benefits are for "families" with children, which often means single young mothers. This creates an incentive for young poor women to have children because it's actually easier to have a baby and collect welfare than trying to find a job. The benefits for having kids on welfare is too strong. When your schools are underfunded, understraffed, and overcrowded it makes learning and focusing on a career difficult.
          But when having children is the ONLY way to get welfare, whaddya think poor women are gonna do?
          It's really stupid; the "welfare reforms" only give people an incentive to have more kids.
          Adults w/o children should also be able to collect welfare, but it should be done in a way that provides vouchers for goods and services like housing instead of just giving them cash.

          SS benefits are ONLY eligible to people who cannot work for one reason or another, and it takes months and months of applications, appointments and red tape to even begin recieving SS benefits, which total about $600/month.

          BTW, I know a bit about this because I tried to get on welfare as a single, childless male and was turned dowm immediately because I didn't have kids, nor did I have an excuse not to work. If I couldn't find a job - Tough Shit!

          Of course it hurts - you're getting screwed by an elephant.

          by sean oliver on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:07:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  just not right (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sean oliver

            I've luckily only been unemployed for twelve weeks in the past thirteen years.  I made enough I didn't claim unemployment benefits as I felt others needed it more, I had some savings to get by.

            I was born in the UK<welfare there is a proper system in which all benefit based on need.</p>

            Government for the people, by the people

            by axel000 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:36:50 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  It can take years to get disablity benefits. (0+ / 0-)

            Veterans disability is starting to take longer as well because more and more veterans are disabled because of the two Bush wars.  

          •  Welfare reform also targets single moms as I (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sean oliver

            was employed in such a program. Single mothers have to work at least 30 hours a week to qualify for foods stamps or medical assistance.  Everyone receiving food stamps or medical assistance card or cash benefits must be in a job training program or be working a minimum of 30 hours per week to qualify.

            The only people who can get food stamps or medical cards without a work requirement are:

            * Those are in the application process for disability benefits.

            * those over the age of 65 who are getting medicare but make so little on social security, that they qualify for some food stamps.

            * the income requirement is so low that most married couples with kids never qualify.

            •  Those requirements are insane! (0+ / 0-)

              How does working 30 hrs/wk qualify someone for food stamps?!?!

              If they're working they shouldn't (presumably) need them, or at least not as much per month.

              I can understand the job training requirement, but who operates that program?

              What state was this? States have very different public assistance programs.

              I can understand the job training requirement, but who operates that program? The state?

              My point about single moms is that these programs make it invevitable that a single woman who just turned 18, and has poor prospects for a getting a job, can ONLY earn money by having a child and living on PA/AFDC/"welfare".

              If she remains childless, she cannot recieve any assistance (except food stamps) - that's the problem. It creates a very strong incentive for young, under-educated women to have kids as soon as they can. Many A-A women have said this; it's their only real, practical option for survival. Even having a McJob won't pay the bills.


              This country's Republican-dominated government has been a goddam disgrace since 1981.

              Of course it hurts - you're getting screwed by an elephant.

              by sean oliver on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 12:54:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Yes they do but they do not file a tax return (0+ / 0-)

          I know a few people who never file tax returns as they are disabled and low income.

  •  Good ideas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jack Williams, stillwaters

    I am blessed to have competent elections officials here in Shawnee County, Kansas.  I can't tell you what a simple, easy process it was to advance vote last week.  I feel spoiled.  I think our county elections clerk even orders enough ballots for every single registered voter in the county.

    Hypothetically, so if the system does get switched over in some way to the federal government, what happens to my competent elections officials here in Kansas?


    A big mandate from an Obama-Biden and Democratic victory on Tuesday is to start a massive effort to make a deep and effective electoral report to stop the same problems that appear every two years.

    I'm for universal registration and then some more!  

    •  not to mention election officials have to prepare (0+ / 0-)

      more for large turnouts at the polls. They had plenty of time to prepare for a large turnout this year..( 4 years to prepare for the next Presidential election) but still most seem unprepared for large numbers of voters.

      One should not have to wait in line 4-6 hours to vote. They should increase the number of voting booths.

    •  ^^^ this ^^^ (0+ / 0-)

      registration reform is only the beginning.  The federal government should ban DREs, federalize the presidential election to take it out of the hands of the states, and abolish the electoral college.

  •  the United States Postal Service? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You have got to be kidding.  They can't be trusted to do anything right.

    How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

    by hannah on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:37:24 AM PDT

    •  I was a postman for a while... (11+ / 0-)

      you have to fill out a form to stop casing mail and tie your shoe.

      But seriously, the USPS is pretty darned amazing, and frankly the most reliable service in the world (IMHO.)



    •  USPS is good, was better before semiprivatized; (3+ / 0-)

      can be great again.  My dad was a postal worker, as was one uncle, one aunt (on my mother's side). While NYC has some slow service compared to rest of US (except DC is slow,too), it's been reliable for me and I'm a heavy user of US mails.  In part because I'm newly online.  I do mail art and have been for decades.  No problems. (Unless I write wrong address or put wrong postage on.)

      My recent problem with absentee ballot was caused by NYC Bd of Elections: and Mayor Bloomberg: we used to have free return postage for absentee ballot for homebound disabled list  Now we have to pay.  According to CommonCause person, Ms. Lerner on WBAI a week or two ago, every county can make up own size of ballot and envelope and free postage or not to return the envelope.  It makes havoc.  I am not sure if spouse put correct postage on,with new postal rates and size, and post office couldn't say and neither could Bd. of Elec. what the postage should be.  The problem is not post office.

      •  Another strike against Bloomberg! Noted - thx! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Or should I say, "The Man Who Would be King".

        You can steal our signs, but you can't steal our vote! OBAMA/BIDEN '08!

        by Blue Waters Run Deep on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:48:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Or emperor. I never voted for him. And I do thin (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Blue Waters Run Deep

          k he "bought" his first and second terms via heavy ads.  I will never get over someone calling WBAI, "Talk Back" and saying "Bloomberg cares about us.".  It was words right out of one of his radio ads.  How would you characterize Bloomberg's getting Speaker Quinn and enough votes to dump term limits just for him (and them,too):"just this once"? Fear, bribes? With  Chutzpah.  But he got away with far.  82% of NYC people wanted a referendum vote on any change.  I was against term limits, voted against both times, but I support the result.  Chutzpah.

          Rich people should be forbidden to use their money for campaigns and there has to be limits on "giving"....yes, I can make a lot of jokes on financial giving.

      •  and one more thing about USPS (0+ / 0-)

        They are NOT a government agency... lots of people don't know that...would that impede using change of address cards to change voter addresses at a federal level?  Would we have to pay the USPS to provide the information?  And what about their (the USPS) privacy committment to their customers... just wondering...

        If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy. -James Madison, fourth US president (1751-1836)

        by crkrjx on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:16:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  agreed, Dad retired 20 years ago and it was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        even better then.

        Dad passed on several years ago but his Union make it so easy for us to get his retirement checks and health benefits changed over to Mom.

        The mail carriers were so close that tons of them were at the funeral and Dad had retired nearly 20 yrs prior to his death.  

        •  wishingwell:my uncle's widow had the same experie (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ce.  My dad was a mailman pre and post disability in WWII,but couldn't work long, or much after WWII.  He'd only been in our neighborhood p.o. branch for one year, when I was a little girl, and when he died a few years later, mailmen (no women carriers then)were still knocking on our apartment door to give my mother the mail instead of putting it into the mailbox.

    •  I humbly disagree. My Postal Service is excellent (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It really depends on where you live.  I currently live in Nebraska - in  Lincoln, the state capitol, population 239,000 - and know my carrier and all the clerks at the retail windows by name.  When I don't come in for a while, they ask where I've been.  Postal service here is first rate, far superior to "Brown".

      When I lived in Chicago it was a completely different story.  There was even a time, about fifteen years ago, when Postal workers went to jail for dumping mail and not delivering it.  Things were so screwed up they had to overhaul the entire Chicago Postal Service operation from top to bottom, but I understand from friends and family that great improvement has been made and service there is now very good.

      There are only two organizations in the US with data bases large enough to cope with universal voter registration: the Postal Service and the IRS.  Combine the two and universal registration is entirely feasible.

      "Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory." - Molly Ivins

      by Involuntary Exile on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:57:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Popular vote (4+ / 0-)

    Universal registration would go a long way toward enabling a switch to a straight popular vote.  You could vote anywhere, in any state, in any precinct, at any machine.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:37:36 AM PDT

  •  This means good states get worse (5+ / 0-)

    bad states get better.

    I'm in a good state. HAVA has already made it a bit worse.

  •  When I was in Denver (4+ / 0-)

    At the DNC, I sat next to a lady from England at the bar one night.  She was blown away by our archaic voter registration system and got me to thinking along the same lines as this diary.

    We are making something hard that should be easy.

  •  not sure (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sui Juris, wishingwell, Yamara

    It seems to me such a system would be in conjunction with issuing a national ID card and I would have problems with that.

    John McCain - Like W. Only Older.

    Funny McCain Pics archive last updated 8/29

    by InsultComicDog on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:38:41 AM PDT

  •  national registration = hysterics from conspiracy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, cal in cali

    theorists and "end of days" fans no matter how you explain it.  They'd say it was part of the slippery slope toward national ID and the mark of the beast and every other far-out thing they could think up.

    It would be an issue to run on against the democrats who passed it.  You might think that's crazy stuff and you'd be right but being crazy hasn't stopped them from floating weird stuff this year.

  •  This isn't the Census Bureau's job, (4+ / 0-)

    and the bureau doesn't come around often enough for this to be effective.

    This should be a branch of the USPS or of Social Security (which would be able, intuitively, to recognize and validate citizenship AND would cover name changes).

    Universal Registration, Universal Healthcare.  Two absolute MUSTS for this country.

    "The goal of an argument should not be victory, but progress." - my fortune cookie

    by Black Leather Rain on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:39:49 AM PDT

  •  Oh fabulous . . . now you want to bring your (3+ / 0-)

    Godless Communism to the election system too!

    States rights!!!!

    Private sector efficiency!!!

    Polly wanna cracker????


  •  Michael Moore pointed out on DemNow, taped yester (3+ / 0-)

    day and played today ( that Canada has universal registration for citizens.  When you're born in Canada, you're registered.  He didn't continue, but when one gets Canadian citizenship, as in naturalized, one would get registration.  

    Our problem is state's rights.............

  •  Why not just make voting mandatory on top, (0+ / 0-)

    like in Australia.

    With a one-stop national ID card.  

    And a constitutional amendment so that states must immediately re-instate a felon's (or parollee's or whomever's) voting rights as soon as their sentence is over.  No more 50 different state laws when it comes to who is eligible to vote.  No more 50 different legal hoops to jump in order to have the right to vote reinstated where it is legal for felons to vote.

    As for change of address cards meaning automatic voter registration change, I don't like it only because just because I'm going to be in a place for 6 weeks or 6 months doesn't mean I'm intending to make that place my permanent residence.  I want my mail and I don't want it to pile up at the old residence.

    That goes for changing address to a PO Box as well, for those of us who use it as a luxury instead of a 'I live out in the boonies' necessity.  Where I get my mail is for my convenience.  That is not the same as where I wish to be registered to vote.

    But I like that this person who wrote this is trying to think of all angles in making voter registration easier.

  •  Can You Imagine the $HIT FIT the GOP (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Karen Wehrstein, CParis

    would have if Congress actually tried this? Watching that would have comedic value to infinity & beyond. If they want to throw in the "nationalizing" argument, we can reply that they were willing to partially "nationalize" our banking system. The American people - the American VOTER - are less important than a bunch of millionaire bankers?!

    "...the struggle against corruption is one of the greatest struggles of our time." Senator Barack Obama

    by CityLightsLover on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:41:30 AM PDT

  •  This makes me nervous. Bush administration (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MahFellaMerkins, Yamara, CParis

    has shown how easy it is to politicize practically every agency.  And because it's just one central governing unit, we won't be able to fight it using the feds against the states.  I am a left liberal and I was for many years a civil rights attorney.  One of the great things about our system is the tension between the feds and the states.  

    WE must hang together or we will all hang separately. B.Franklin

    by ruthhmiller on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:42:01 AM PDT

    •  Exactly! Remember most elections are for local (0+ / 0-)

      offices - town, county, state, school board - not President.  Turnout for these elections are often 20% - which means a few partisan hacks can control things for decades.

      What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. ~ Dan Quayle

      by CParis on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:54:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Marxist! (0+ / 0-)

    Of course the Democrat is going to want the government to step in and fix the problem. Typical.

  •  "assign each person a unique (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blue Waters Run Deep, Spekkio

    voter-identification number"

    Isn't this called a social security number ?

    "The budget should be balanced; the treasury should be refilled; debt should be reduced; and the arrogance of officials should be controlled." Cicero 106-43 BC

    by TKH on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:44:46 AM PDT

  •  Why is it so hard to vote in this country (0+ / 0-)

    For a country that supposed to be the beckon of freedom and democracy it seems its not the easiest place to register and vote.  And even if one were to handle those nicely you have the additional worry of your vote actually counting.  It seems like with technology and communication the way it is this would be a simple problem to address - but I guess the powers that be don't want it that way.  

    What we really need is universal participation is all aspects of government and decisions that affect the whole country and probably the whole world.  We also need a better source for truth - we need pure information without the bias of the media one way or another.

    Very soon now this "truth" will emerge and all will be able to make more informed decisions for themselves.  In the VERY near future Maitreya the world teacher will give his first major interview on a US major network.  He is here to provide us with inspiration, truth, and solutions.  It will be up to us to act on that information and help but plenty of help will be available.

    It's all about us - but we need a little nudge in the right direction.


    Working together to save the world

    by CaseyK24 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:45:10 AM PDT

    •  It's because of the electoral college. (0+ / 0-)

      Your residency wouldn't be a problem in a national election if there were no electoral college.

      Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

      by upstate NY on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:27:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I think some reforms need to be made (0+ / 0-)

    I don't agree with making it mandatory, since some people just don't want to vote, and I'd rather people not vote than make uninformed decisions, but it needs to be easier for people who want to vote. I think for starters, we need either a voting by mail system in every state like Oregon (absentee doesn't count, since in some states, MO at least, it's a pain in the ass since you have to find some place to notarize your ballot), or instead of election day, have election week. Say the polls are open every day from Sunday through Saturday, and votes are counted Saturday night once the polls close. That way, everyone should get a chance to vote sometime during that week

  •  AMEN(!) to universal registration (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caipirinha, Spekkio

    And while we're at it make Election Day a federal holiday so people don't feel pressured to vote at particular times OR lose wages OR have to pick up a kid from school, etc...

    Early voting is great, but we should have a day where we celebrate our democracy in action.

  •  We have Election Day Registration at the polls (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cal in cali Minnesota and in some other states (like Wisconsin.)

    Passing a law to require all states to have Election Day Registration at the polls would be a simpler solution to the problem of disenfranchisement than giving everyone a Federal Voter ID number.

  •  Universal vote by mail (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cal in cali

    Postage paid. Once WA made vote-by-mail accessible to everyone, no questions asked, I quit my polling place and never looked back.

    We can do this either before or after DC gets statehood, and PR, if they want it.

    "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

    by Ivan on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:47:21 AM PDT

    •  I've always had worries (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Angevin, MKSinSA

      that vote-by-mail had the potential of creating situations where one person in a household (like the abusive father in a Bible banging family) would wind up voting for everyone in that household, or at least demanding to see who the others voted for. In-person voting ensures a secret ballot.

      John McCain - Like W. Only Older.

      Funny McCain Pics archive last updated 8/29

      by InsultComicDog on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:51:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What system is perfect? (0+ / 0-)

        The answer is NONE! They all have tradeoffs.

        This scenario is just as real, and just as full of bullshit, as the fat black Cadillac-driving welfare queen, and is just as insulting to women.

        If a woman is in such an abusive relationship, she has much greater problems than casting her ballot, and scaremongering about a mail-in ballot does nothing to help women escape those relationships, and does nothing to help more people vote.

        In short, this argument is about as credible as the one that says Obama voted to kill unborn babies.

        "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

        by Ivan on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:58:43 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Why voter ID #? Use our SSN (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stas61690, Blue Waters Run Deep

    Of all the dumb things that a Social Security (or Taxpayer ID) # is used for privately-- particularly credit reporting-- this seems to me to be one of those times where it should be used for a dual purpose. That is already a national database; the SS Administration already tracks every cent I owe by SSN (through the IRS), and already knows where I live. If I don't have income, then the SSA is probably sending me a check. I have no hard data, but I would imagine the veracity of SSN data has to approach 95%+.

    My point is, why create an additional layer of data, to get fouled up and out of date immediately? Use what we already have, which is already mostly correct.

    KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

    •  I agree, but... (0+ / 0-)

      I think that there are rules/laws about when a SSN can and can't be used.  This might be one of those times.  However, it sure would eliminate all kinds of problems.

      Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion can change government. - Lincoln

      by estamm on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:55:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Use a system like Canada does (4+ / 0-)

    Elections in Canada are run by a government agency, Elections Canada, which keeps a computerized list of voters which is used for federal, provincial and municipal elections as well as referenda.

    Before each election they send you a card listing all the voters in the household and telling you where to vote.  If something needs correcting, e.g. a person in the household just turned voting age, you contact Elections Canada.  If you don't receive that card then you know that you have to contact them to be able to vote.

    I don't believe they get data from the census, but they do from Revenue Canada -- each time you fill out your income tax return you can check off a box allowing them to share data with Elections Canada.  That provides yearly change of address info.

    In other words, you register but once in your life, and from then on you're on the list.

    More info at Elections Canada.

  •  Election Reform 2009 (0+ / 0-)

    Election Reform should be a high priority for the 2009 Congress.  Uniform federal voting registration standards is one priority.  A federal option to vote "No Opinion" or "None of the Above" is another matter that merits discussion and the consequences when such a choice receives a significant percentage of the popular vote.

  •  Indeed, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    such a uniform, federal system would seem to be required by Bush v. Gore.

  •  Automatic Registration at Birth (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Caipirinha, wrights, Quicklund, hotwawu
    Everyone should get registered to vote at their address when they're born. Of course the registration isn't valid for voting until you're 18+. And every post office should allow reregistration with a new address the same way (and probably on the same form, with a checkbox) as when you move your postal address.

    Everyone should get a postcard in the Spring and in October confirming their registration and mapping their local polling place.

    That simple procedure would not only assign everyone their voting opportunity. It would also remind everyone that voting is an obligation as well as an opportunity (the reminder cards should say so explicitly). And it would allow a central registry for all citizens, so individual backwaters can't either deprive some people their voting rights, or let other people vote more than once, eliminating the cover of confusion that steals points every year, at every elected level.

    This is the most fundamental democracy. After 232 years, we should have this kind of thing nailed down already.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:50:15 AM PDT

  •  Mandatory. Australia. Very different there indeed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blue Waters Run Deep

    Here's how they do things in Australia (excerpt from Wikipedia article on voter registration)


    The Australian Electoral Commission administers Australia's federal electoral roll. Each state also has its own electoral commission or office, but voters need only register with the AEC, which passes the registration details to relevant state commissions.

    Voter Registration is mandatory for all citizens 18 years of age or above. An individual has 8 weeks after turning 18 to register, but may register at any time with no penalty being enforced for failure to register. Similarly, if a change of address causes an individual to move to another electorate (Electoral Division) they are legally obliged to notify the Electoral Commission within 8 weeks. In Australia, details of house and apartment sales are in the public domain. The Electoral Commission monitors these and sends a reminder (and the forms) to new residents in case they have moved to another electorate, making compliance with the law much easier.

    Periodically the Electoral Commission conducts door-to-door and postal campaigns to try to ensure that all eligible persons are registered in the correct electorate.

    The one registration covers Federal, State and Local voter registration. In Australia it is a legal offence to fail to vote (or at the very least, attend a polling station and have one's name crossed off the roll) at any Federal or State election, punishable by a fine. The amount of the fine varies between federal and various state elections. Usually people are issued with warnings when it is found that they have not voted, and they are given an opportunity to show cause for not voting. Acceptable reasons for not voting may include: being in the Accident Department of a Hospital, being ill (requires confirmation), being out of the country on election day, religious objections, being incarcerated etc. I forgot is not considered acceptable and will incur a fine.

    Traditionally voters cannot register within three weeks of an election, but in 2004 the Howard Government passed legislation that prevents registration after 8PM on the day that the writs are issued (this can be up to ten days after the election has been announced).[2] This legislation has been considered as controversial by some Australians who contend it disenfranchises first-time voters or those who have forgotten to re-register. To ameliorate this concern, when the Electoral Commission considers an election announcement is likely with a few weeks it conducts public awareness advertising on the need to register or to update registration.

  •  We need federal registration for (0+ / 0-)

    federal elections. The states can do what they want, but the feds need to be able to register voters and outlaw electronic voting in federal elections to assure honest elections.

    It's a shame it's required, but it is.

  •  Automatic registration at Age 18 (0+ / 0-)

    That's how most of the industrialized world does it. You turn 18, you're registered to vote.

    Not my idea, something I heard from a talking TV head in the recent past.

  •  If you have seven houses (0+ / 0-)

    Do you get to vote seven times?  We'd have to prevent that....

    Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion can change government. - Lincoln

    by estamm on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:51:38 AM PDT

  •  national id? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sui Juris, johnnygunn

    why not go the whole route, issue a unique id number at birth?  this could be tatoo'd to the forehead/back of the neck...

    wouldn't a host of registration/identity issues be solved that way?

  •  Sorry Charlene - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But it would require a profound change - not quite a constitutional amendment since the Constitution gave states the power to set the terms of elections, but gave Congress the power to change them.  

    The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Place of Chusing Senators.

    Up until now, Congress has been reticent to embark on structural, uniform changes through legislation - with the singular exception of the Voting Right Acts.  Otherwise, Congress has used constitutional amendments as the means to restructure voting on the federal level.

    Amendment 14 - 2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.

    Amendment 15 - 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

    Amendment 17 - The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.

    So the question becomes - given all the other issues facing the nation - the economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the need to move to sustainable energy production - is it worth the political capital to engender the hostility of many people in and out of government who might see this as an infringement on powers reserved to the states?

    Personally, I have never been one to argue for "One Size Fits All" - provided that the states meet certain guidelines for fairness and accessibility, then this is a power best left to the states.

  •  I would also suggest that... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Voting be required, not voluntary.
    Many countries do this, and it is high time we looked at voting as a responsibility; rather than a spur of the moment choice.

    St. Ronnie was an asshole.

    by manwithnoname on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 07:52:59 AM PDT

  •  Consider how easy it is to vote in Canada (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Even if you are NOT on the list of registered voters, you may vote the same day by just showing one photo ID (driver's license or medical insurance card or passport or indeed any photo id issued by federal or provincial authorities) plus proof of address (if the ID does not itself mention the address). Even if your ID has no photo on it, you can bring a witness who will solemnly affirm (not swear) on your behalf that you are the person you yourself solemnly affirm to be.

    Same legislation accross 10 provinces and three territories.

  •  Here in Britain (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I get a notice every couple of years telling me I HAVE to register to vote or provide a reason why not.

    •  British procedure (0+ / 0-)

      Voter registration in the UK is not perfect. But it may offer some discussion points for US debates.

      The timetable below is arranged round the UK election a pattern which is basically elections happen in April through to June unless something special happens. So you would need to shuffle dates to make something like this work in the USA.

      Election registration is carried out by non-partisan boards –in the UK operated by cities and counties using National guidelines. Key workers have to refain from membership of any political party.

      There is a national Election Registration day. That is 15th October. Re-registration forms are sent out in September of each year to cover all households including those with no voters listed. Previous voters at that address are listed.  You either have to confirm either that

      The listed votes is still at that address
      A voter is no longer at that address
      Provide name(s) of qualified people now at that address and declare their qualification details.

      If there is no change in registration information for that household you can simply confirm registration on a webpage service or by text message using code numbers. Changes require return of printed form duly amended.

      People who will become 18 years old during the life of the new register are registered at this stage, are listed in the Register  alongside all otherr voters with their 18th birthday date noted, and can vote automatically at any election held on or after that date.

      Cut-off date as I said is 15 October. All forms received by that date are processed and a preliminary electoral roll for each Electoral District (precinct) is published – this should come out real soon now for this year. This gives all interested parties a chance to check the registrations, note who is purged and who has come on, and lodge any objections. Parties will double-check their supporters and contact people wrongly left off to get them to submit supplementary registration forms. The Democratic Services Boards will process this feedback and produce the definitive electoral roll which comes into force on 1st January. It is valid until 31st December of that year. Each voter has an unique electoral number on that register for that year.

      If you are still left off, or move during the year, you can register or change registration. Supplementary electoral rolls are produced at the end of each month and a master electoral registered updated with the changed electors listed with the others on from 1st January, but with distinctive code numbers . Registrations close ten days before any polling day and re-opens again after close of polls.

      The electoral rolls are available for public scrutiny at the registration HQs and in the main library buildings. It IS possible to ask for your name to be concealed from the public, this is usually granted to people who fear stalking and domestic violence.

      Registration is obligatory but I have never heard of anyone being prosecuted for not registering, only for preventing someone else from being registered.

      Note that the UK has a much more complicated qualification procedure for inclusion on the register

      1. UK Citizens. Entitled to vote at any election that occurs in their Precinct.
      1. Citizens of the Republic of Ireland, who have EXACTLY THE SAME voting rights as UK citizens if they are resident in the UK –and they have unlimited right of entry.  
      1. Citizens of Commonwealth Countries who have right of entry and abode. No requirement to acquire UK citizenship. Can vote in any election.
      1. Citizens of European Union countries. They do NOT have the right to vote in Parliamentary elections but can vote in Local Government elections and (if they have not specifically opted to be registered in their home countries) can vote in European Parliament Elections for UK constituencies.

      This means that the electoral register includes code letters to show if a particular voter
      1 can vote in any election
      2 can vote in local elections only
      3 can vote in European Parliament elections only
      4 can vote in both local and EP elections

      The strength of the system is that there is a definitive list prepared as far ahead as possible, with annual check-ups. You are either on or off, and anyone can check status at any time; and verification and purging is done for most people well in advance of the heat of a particular campaign.

      I hope this is of some interest

      Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.

      by saugatojas on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:46:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Do we really want a national ID? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    beyond the social security number, which is used for limited purposes and is by law NOT supposed to be used as a general ID? There are lots of policy issues here, starting with accuracy, then confidentiality. I'm enough of a libertarian to be apprehensive about having one number assigned to me for voting, taxpaying, financial records, medical records, insurance, driver's license, passport, and other activities involving recordkeeping, given all the problems of data management and misuse that have arisen.

    As for USPS address changes, I've had experience trying to relate those to voters' actual whereabouts. Maybe 50% are accurate. The others are temporary, obsolete or error-ridden.

    •  agree - I am concerned about my SS# being routed (0+ / 0-)

      through a zillion agencies & private contractors.  There have been some terrible incidences of data lost/stolen/disappeared from mortgage companies, credit card issuers, insurance companies.

      And in these tough economic times, can't run the risk of ID theft or credit rating f*ck-ups - bad credit can effect your auto insurance rates, hiring decisions, etc.

      What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is. ~ Dan Quayle

      by CParis on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:00:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think we do.... (0+ / 0-)

      All of the complaints from both right and left wings comes from people being able to fake their identities.  Voter fraud, immigration violations, terrorism, tax evasion, gun violations, most criminal conspiracies bring some call that we have to be MORE CAREFUL in checking people's IDENTITIES.  The voting "reform" law basically asks states to see if all the separate databases work like one database, that is, to see if a name is spelled the right way.  So why not have one database?

      given all the problems of data management and misuse that have arisen.

      Not that having one number makes that any more likely.  

      "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting." Fox New's John Moody

      by Inland on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:09:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, and think about all the trouble we could (0+ / 0-)

        save if we just made everyone using the 'net in the US sign on with their actual identity!  Great idea!

        •  Anonymity gets me squat. (0+ / 0-)

          Because nobody gives anything to a person who claims anonymity: they have to claim to be somebody or something.  That's pretty easy when you can choose between all sorts of easy to obtain ID that nobody has a decent way to check.

          True story: The Department of Homeland Security will not accept a personal check with a Passport as identification.  It's very own ID, good enough to get into the country, is not worth the risk of $600 in bounced check.

          However, it will accept a personal check if you have a Passport plus something else, like a SS card.
          Guess what the SS office accepts to give you an SS card?  That's right...a passport.

          "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting." Fox New's John Moody

          by Inland on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:27:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  so you're just (0+ / 0-)

            dumping out all your opinions here on dKos with the idea that no one will ever read them/give them any weight, because you're anonymous?

            Curious approach.

            •  Um, no. (0+ / 0-)

              I'm putting my ideas on dKos anonymously because I am willing to let them stand and fall on their own merit, without regard to the source.

              And because I'm not looking to get squat if they are given weight.  I won't get checking account numbers or book sales.  That's the difference between anonymity and a faked identity.  

              Any more questions for me?  Since my anonymity doesn't prevent you from asking.


              "If the incident turns out to be a hoax, Senator McCain's quest for the presidency is over, forever linked to race-baiting." Fox New's John Moody

              by Inland on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:51:23 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  No, we really don't (0+ / 0-)

      and as explained up the page, we've got some solid examples of why we shouldn't trust one.

  •  Let Congress do it (0+ / 0-)
    Let's not leave it up to the next President--it would never come up in a McCain presidency. A Democratic majority in Congress can take care of it--that's our best hope. We can each make subtle demands upon our elected officials to do so.
  •  PS - Not Voting (0+ / 0-)

    Not voting / Not registering - should be a form of constitutionally protected speech.  If I do not believe that the American political system as currently structured is valid, then I should not be forced to participate.  In addition, there are people whose religious beliefs - Jehovah's Witnesses - proscribe them from voting.

    Mandatory registration would be a violation of these persons' constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion.

    •  There are limitations (0+ / 0-)

      Mandatory registration would be a violation of these persons' constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religion.

      We already have some limits on those freedoms, and I'd be for mandatory registration and voting.

      Vote with your conscience, O Progressive, for there are many Conservatives who will vote without one.

      by MahFellaMerkins on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:03:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  What about voting "present?" (0+ / 0-)

      I'm serious about this. One could send in a card or go to the polls and simply vote "present." And that could be an option for any individual position or proposal being voted on - This guy, that guy, that gal, or present.

  •  Conservatives should get behind this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's ALL ABOUT reducing wasteful spending, Including people in the political process, and efficiency.

    Of course it's not about vagina control, or making those damned kids stop cursing at me, so we'll probably see nothing from that lot.

  •  We need this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541, divedeeper

    National registration would address the weakest link problem that we have with national elections now.

    In 2000 and again in 2004, I saw my vote in Maryland compromised by Florida then Ohio respectively. Republicans only needed to target the weakest state systems to make everyone elses vote not count.

    National registration would be part of addressing this as it would remove any parties ability to locally manipulate voter registration.

    We should also expect a National Standard for voting machines and processes. The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) would be a good non-partisan home for this, they have the statistical and technological savvy to address the issues.

    National Registration would also reduce the cost of voting, sometimes a major burden on local budgets.

    Not only should we register high school students to vote but we should make voting part of the curriculum. Imagine if between the ages of 16 and 18 students were registered and required to participate in an election as part of their graduation requirements. The votes of those younger than 18 would not be tallied into the final election results but it would get the students out to experience the process, serve as a civics lesson, and possibly interested in local, state, and national affairs.

    This should be something everyone can get behind

    Live to create the world you want to live in.

    by beerm on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:00:00 AM PDT

  •  Why have registration at all? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Other countries don't

  •  Of course, it is no accident (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that voter registrations is so difficult. Asserting your rights in the political sphere, unless you are a lobbyist, is considered radicalism and a sort of Communism. ACORN is reviled as an ultra-leftist organization, fomenting the overthrow the American government.
    Similarly, voter turnout is low because the civics lesson in this country is: a) The government really doesn't matter b) All politicians are equally corrupt c) You don't matter as part of the process.

  •  Vote on Veteran's Day (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    The Angevin, Amber6541, divedeeper

    It's already a federal holiday. Most Vet's ceremonies do not last all day.  Schools, banks, post offices are already closed. Make it the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, everybody shows their respect for the Veterans who faught and died for the right to vote, by voting.  Being a Tuesday, people won't take a long weekend vacation  (like Labor Day and Memroial Day).  Make it a day of pride for all Americans.  

  •  Why wouldn't Dems do this? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It's great politics - simplify registration for everyone and discourage voter registration fraud.  Republican would come up with some argument against it, but there's no way they could succeed.  They tried to stop motor voter and failed.

    In addition, it'd be a boon to Dems.  We know that if people vote, Democrats win.  So why not eliminate this obstacle to people voting.  Imagine if with Obama's huge ground game, ANY voting-age individual they contacted right now would be a potential vote.

  •  Right now in Ohio (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    A voter registered at an address within the state can move anywhere intra-state up through election day & simply vote provisionally in the polling place for their current precinct. Federalizing registration would do this one better & allow people to move inter-state up through election day and still vote.

  •  Simple and sensible and completely executable. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cal in cali, Amber6541

    Therefore, it'll never happen.

    "I'm just an asshat with a keyboard and an obsession." -- JeffLieber

    by Mehitabel9 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:03:04 AM PDT

  •  "Paper trails" are a bad idea. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Amber6541

    The phrase "paper trails" is used to refer to systems in which one votes electronically, but sees a paper record.  This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough.  Voting machines can still suffer from the "calibration problems" we've heard so much about, where a vote slips from one candidate to another, or similar software problems that result in vote miscounting.  Voters can fail to notice that the wrong information is on the paper trail, or even if they do notice there's not  much they can do about it.  The machines are still expensive and can still break down.  And I worry about things like TEMPEST attacks destroying the privacy of the voting booth.

    We should specifically demand that optical scan ballots be used everywhere.  Voters just go into voting booths with paper and pen, just as they do here in the UK - no equipment to break down, no worries about voting lines.  All you need to count the vote is a room full of PCs with scanners - inexpensive COTS equipment in other words.  And it's really, really easy for observers to check that the vote has been counted fairly - they can watch the pieces of paper move, just as they always have, and they can verify the scanned count against the real count by comparing randomly chosen groups of ballots to the machine counts for those ballots.

    Cheap, fast and secure: optical scan is just the Right Thing.  Let's demand that.

    Paul Crowley aka "ciphergoth"

    by ciphergoth on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:04:10 AM PDT

  •  Selective Service at the Post office (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Let's make it super easy. On your 18th birthday, you go to a post office and register to vote, just like selective service.

    Among other means. You can register to vote at libraries, any federal office building. All high school counselors should have voter registration forms. All colleges should have voter registration offices.

    I think this is already in place in a lot of places, but I don't know.

    Also, persons of 18 years of age or older, in any circumstance, ought to know when they're not registered. They ought to be able to call some entity, a 1-800 number, and inquire whether or not they're registered. And, they ought to feel it in thier hearts that registering to vote should be a civic requirement, even though it isn't. It should seem mandatory.

    Same-day registration, too. What the hell. 30-days-before-the-election registration is a pain.

    "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

    by sapper on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:04:38 AM PDT

    •  Heck I didn't even need to go to the post office. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, sapper, Amber6541

      The feds (or someone don't even know for sure) started sending me crap for selective service months before I  turned 18.

    •  Selective service sign up is mandatory, I do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      believe. And I am not sure if they have to update their change of address. I will ask my son as he has moved many times since turning 18 and going off to college and then to his job. He moves all the time.

      •  It's amazing how well they keep up (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        with you. Granted, I joined the army, but in the five years after they let me out, I moved six times. I got the army promotion magazine, whatever it was called without fail. They never missed an address.

        Regardless of who does the voter registration, just let the federal government handle the tracking and updating. They know where you are! Mwah-hahahahaha.

        "Half of the American people never read a newspaper. Half never vote for President. One hopes it is the same half." - Gore Vidal

        by sapper on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 11:51:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  We need a national voter Bill of Rights... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johnnygunn, Amber6541, divedeeper

    while we cannot legislate local elections at the federal level any federal elections are fair game...

    1. Early voting and "No Excuse" absentee balloting for a minimum of 15 days before election day.  Hours must include at least 4 hours per day before/after normal business hours (9:00am - 5:00pm local time).  And must include at least 3 weekend days for a minimum of 8 hours per day or 30 hours of total weekend voting time.  All early voting shall include same-day registration with proper ID.
    1. Voting machine allocation must be proportional to the voting age population as of the last census.  Voters should not have to wait more than 2 hours to vote.  Vote wait times must be tracked and additional voting locations/machines must be added to reduce waiting times
    1. Voter registration should be allowed up to the day of voting with proper ID.  If registered to vote prior to election day, signature verification is only required.  If signature does not match registration, ID can be required once validated by 2 independent poll watchers.
    1. All voter registration purging shall be completed no later than 90 days before any federal election.  All voter registration purged voters must be notified 30 days before their name is purged as well as notifying both the DNC and RNC so that they can track down the voter and verify that they are no longer eligible to vote in that state.  All purging of more than 500 voter must be approved by the FEC.  All outside contractors used for the purpose of registration purging must be approved by the FEC
    1. All votes are valid for registered voters within a state as long as they are still domiciled in that state.  If the registered voter has moved only votes cast in local elections and congressional elections may be invalidated.
    1. All homeless people have the right to vote.  Their identities will be verified by a governmental social service agency.
    1. Any person who perpetrates voter fraud including:  voting in more than 1 jurisdiction, voting multiple times, voting while legally ineligible is a federal crime punishable by a minimum of 1 year in jail and suspension of your voting rights for a minimum of 5 years.  There are no criminal penalties for multiple registrations.
    1. It is a felony (Federal Crime) to diseminate information that is willfully false in the furtherance of voter suppression.  This would include but not be limited to:  False Voting location and dates, warnings of police presence, and other similar tactics.  This would be punishable with a minimum of a 1 year jail term and suspension of voting rights for 5 years.
    1. Electioneering and campaigning can be restricted from polling places.  Nobody shall be denied the right to vote based on 1st ammendment rights on clothing and decorations on clothing (e.g. campaign buttons)
    1. Any law/executive order passed in the states that may restrict voter turnout must be approved by the FEC.  Any law/executive order passed in the states that expand voter turnout needs no approval by the FEC but must be reported within 10 days to the FEC.
    1. During Presidential elections, there shall be uniform poll closing times of 10:00pm EST (with the exception of AK & HI which would be 12:00pm EST).  Polls can open as early as the states want as long as there is at least 12 hours of voting time on election day.

    Those are my thoughts...

    Obama/Biden'08 Winning Change for America and the Democratic Party

    by dvogel001 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:04:52 AM PDT

  •  Why secret ballots? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You know, the secret ballot was a 19th century invention in the US. In most of the 1800's, your vote was not secret.  The idea of secret ballots was to prevent retribution against you for your vote.

    But what if we went back to open ballots?  With the web these days, your vote could be recorded publicly and you could check to make sure it was right and recorded. Anyone could download the entire database of voting and run analysis, etc. This would be entirely transparent and make it very hard for the GOP to run their many games (which have stolen the last 2 elections).

    On a related note, don't forget how my daughters feel about Prop 8 in California:

    •  Not a good idea. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishingwell, Amber6541

      Imagine the problems if children voted against their parents wishes, husbands v. wives. etc.
      Voting needs to be free of coercion. I have never heard that voting was public, but if it was, people probably fought for years for secret ballots.

      •  maybe so (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You're probably right.  Here's some background on the US secret ballot, from

        In the United States, most states had moved to secret ballots soon after the presidential election of 1884. However, the last U.S. State in the Union to retire the practice of the oral ballot was the Commonwealth of Kentucky which did so in 1891. The Constitution for the State of West Virginia still allows voters to cast "open ballots"[5]. Therefore, the first President of the United States elected completely under the Australian ballot was president Grover Cleveland in 1892. Elections in the United States are now almost always held by secret ballot. [6] A Pennsylvania commonwealth legislator long active in election reform issues, Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, said "The secret ballot guarantees that it is one's private opinion that counts. Open ballots are not truly free for those whose preferences defy the structures of power or friendship." The Populists, a short-lived American political party during 1870s through 1890s, listed the Australian ballot as one of their party platforms in the Ocala Demands.

  •  s/Hansen/Hasen/ (0+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the continued excellent reporting!

  •  Anti-Democracy Republican Party will fight it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with every lie in the book.

    "...we love this country too much to let the next four years look like the last eight." - Barack Obama

    by Lefty Coaster on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:06:39 AM PDT

  •  This type of thinking is just what America needs! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spekkio, Amber6541

    We are supposed to be the world leaders and experts on Democracy, yet we rank second to last among major Democracies in voter turnout averaging about 54%.

    54%!!!  Only slightly more than half.

    The emphasis for years has been to try to eliminate voters.  THIS MUST CHANGE.  The paradigm must shift toward making sure that every eligible person is given the opportunity and encouraged to register and to vote.

    There should be major Federal penalties for people that try to supress voting because the right to vote is crucial in any viable Democracy.

    I could go on all day, so it's time I stop.

  •  I would also like a better way to find (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    information on down-ticket races, like judges, local races and often ballot proposals.

    We never know the worth of water `til the well is dry. Thomas Fuller 1732

    by Amber6541 on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:13:41 AM PDT

  •  Similar to Obama's Education Plan (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Spekkio

    Anyone who has applied to college in the past ten years has probably come across the dreaded FAFSA. In order to get financial aid, students have to fill out the FAFSA annually and it is one of the most complex forms every.

    Obama's plan? (And Hillary's too, incidentally.) Get rid of the FAFSA, add a check box to your income tax forms and get the same information to the right people without having to fill out a superfluous form with the same information.

    This was one of the ideas that turned me on the Obama in the first place. Common sense.

  •  Currently no national voting machine standards .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Spekkio, Amber6541

    This would be another thing to address. There must be a paper trail for every machine and the machine production and technical details should be under close federal monitoring. And there should be a uniform standard for ballot design.

    It's a disgrace that there are no such uniform standards after the 2000 election fiasco. Obama could propose and push for an omnibus election reform law covering the matters in the above diary plus nationwide voting machine and ballot standardization.

  •  Europeans automatically registered? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This week, on Lehrer I believe, someone was saying that many European countries automatically register people upon becoming eligible.  I don't know the details, but it makes sense.  I never understood our 2-step process.  If you are eligible to vote, you are eligible to vote. Period.

    "I beseech you,... think it possible you may be mistaken." -- Cromwell/Bronowski

    by jockyoung on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 08:16:08 AM PDT

  •  At the very least.. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...they should standardize the ballots.

  •  Registering voters (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Having spent about 6 weeks registering voters before the deadline in my state, I would hate to see any of these voters dis-qualified for in-ept non-match errors. we encourged everyone who registered to contact their town clerk/city hall just to check. if they didn't receive a confirmation card w/in 2-3 weeks. But you never know..
    I hope we can clean up voting in a unversal way once we get past the hurdles of this election.

  •  Now if we could only implement a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Universal pay attention.

  •  also need a universal voting system (0+ / 0-)

    There needs to be a universal voting system used in every polling place in America.  One that leaves a paper trail.

  •  I would add to the mix mandatory registration (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and voting such as threy have in Australia. I realise that to many free speechers and libertarians forcing someone to vote in order to participate collectively in the decisions their nation makes on their behalf, such as going to war as one glaring example, is anathema.

    However I am coming around to believing that voting needs to be a responsibility rather than a right. I also believe that any individual, citizen or legal permanent resident, who pays any form of taxes, federal and local, should be at least allowed to vote in local elections.

    I believe that election reform is probably the most important of reforms that need to be considered.  The manner in which people excercise this responsibility is far too important to be allowed to be left to partisan local officials.

  •  You forgot something (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wishingwell, Daidio Tsays

    What do you think the state of the voter rolls would be today if the Bush administration had been in charge of them for the past eight years?  Every dirty trick of vote suppression that the Republicans have been using in the states they control would have been employed nationwide.  Think about having Karl Rove in charge of the registration machinery in every state.  We'd be lucky if NY and CA still had Democratic majorities.

  •  mixed on this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I think the current system is completely screwed for the reasons mentioned above, plus there's huge latitude for fraud and suppression; with friends and friends-of-friends running the registrations and balloting. there's a real lack of oversight.

    But I'd be also concerned about fraud in a national system. Imagine that GW Bush had been appointing federal elections officials all the way down the line for the last eight years, with insiders hiring "Bushites" and finding excuses to fire anyone who wasn't loyal to the Right. Of course lobbyists would get involved, and the system would be as unfunded as possible. Think EPA, or IRS. There would be executive orders to focus on Acorn-like initiatives and to ignore real suppression tactics and so on.

    I think it's a good idea in principle, but it'd have to have real protections built into it and very clear sunshine guidelines.

  •  universal voter ID? SSN (0+ / 0-)

    you could make the SSN your voter id number

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 09:02:05 AM PDT

  •  I can't agree more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I've long advocated for federal elections to be controled by the Federal Government. They only way to ensure free and fair elections is to remove small minded politics from the entire process. I'm slightly biased in favor of the Canadian election system but I think Elections Canada is a wonderful example of how a federal government entity can administer nationwide elections.

  •  Dereliction of govt's emocratic duty to assure (0+ / 0-)

    that people have easy and uniform access to, the vote, and to prevent fraud.
    Practical, reasonable ideas for making govt work to that end.
    Here's for a new federal election law that incorporates this kind of thinking! And enough of the bullshit about not getting govt bureaurocracies involved.
    Great post! Thanks.

  •  When it comes to doing the logical, common-sense, (0+ / 0-)

    right thing, never underestimate the government's ability to fuck it up.

    I fear that even with an Obama administration, too many people (aka Katherine Harris Karen Handel) would strongly resist what they'd consider a federal encroachment into their turf. I'm sure they'd come up with some way of deriding it as un-American, especially if the rest of the world already has working forms of universal registration.

  •  purple finger double vote prevention (0+ / 0-)

    I've never understood what's wrong with that system of inking down everyone's finger when they vote (the ink won't wash off and takes a few days to wear away).  If it's good enough for those countries we keep "exporting democracy" to, why isn't it good enough for us?  All the computer crap being proposed instead is way too complicated and subvertible.

    Hawkish on impeachment.

    by clyde on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:09:12 AM PDT

  •  Very very important ideas (0+ / 0-)

    This is as important as the "substantive" issues of healthcare, Iraq, etc.  We need to preserve the institution of democracy itself.

    I wrote about this in the following diary entry (my first attempt at diarying).  Please let me know what you think!

    Looking beyond crisis to the democratic process

  •  Bad Idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Daidio Tsays

    While it sounds great on the surface, putting voter registration in the hands of a single organization makes vote suppression trivial.

    Imagine the fun Karl Rove would have had if there was a SINGLE voter data base to purge.

    A lawless regime can use control of the voter rolls to ensure it stays in power.

    Making the registration process consistent across all states is a good idea - putting all the control at a single point is not.

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Benjamin Franklin

    by Mr Tentacle on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:18:24 AM PDT

  •  Legitamacy of voter registration laws (0+ / 0-)

    All laws regarding voting should have as their main purpose assuring that the will of the majority of eligible voters is assessed.

    That was the point of a diary that I don't think was very well read as I published it mid afternoon a few days ago.

    Here is the link.

    Loyal's diary on voter suppression et al


  •  Is the Electoral College inconsistent with the (0+ / 0-)


    Look, I know our residentially based voting system is itself PART of the constitution, but that doesn't mean that parts of the constitution may not be, well, unconstitutional.

    Clearly, back when only landowners with pasty faces voted, there didn't seem to be any inconsistency whatsoever.

    But now, if you lose your home, move to a new address where you don't pay the bills (and thus can't prove your residency through such normal means) you are deprived of your right to vote.

    The whole electoral college system has an installed bias against poor people who are temporarily housed.

    That's unconstitutional.

    Has any civil rights group or constitutional watchdog ever contested the electoral college?

    Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

    by upstate NY on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:25:52 AM PDT

    •  good essay at Salon last year by Garrett Epps (0+ / 0-)

      He was a conlaw prof at UO until this year, when he moved back east.  We've changed the method of electing the president many times in the past, usually after some kind of debacle like the one in 2000.  The 'wrong guy' ends up in office, everybody grumbles, and Congress changes some stuff to try to prevent it from happening again.  

      I know this isn't quite an answer to your question, but go read this and see if it doesn't address some of the deeper points: Let's Abolish the Electoral College

      [E]ven if the Framers distrusted democracy in the 18th century, that's not a good reason for us to distrust it in the 21st. We scrapped the Framers' system more than a century ago. We no longer permit individuals to own slaves, for example (13th Amendment); we no longer permit states to maintain old-South-style semi-dictatorships or skew their legislative apportionment (14th Amendment) or to bar voting by racial minorities (15th) or by women (19th) or by those who don't pay their poll tax (24th) or by young adults (26th). Senators are elected by the people, not state legislatures (17th). Why should we [continue to] tolerate a system that lets state legislatures decide how states pick their electors?

  •  One reason we need registration (0+ / 0-)

    Gov't databases are less than complete.

    Frankly, the gov't doesn't know if you're a citizen or not, doesn't know if you were born here or not, can't tell you apart from Adam--if your name is also Adam.

    They have no record of some 40 year olds.

    Homeland Security and Border Security don't even have matching records.

    Look at these people! They suck each other! They eat each other's saliva and dirt! -- Tsonga people of southern Africa on Europeans kissing.

    by upstate NY on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 10:31:37 AM PDT

  •  How about doing away with registrations period .. (0+ / 0-)

    the states have their license database to approximate how much infrastructure they need.  County records and such can manage precinct distribution.  Why should a voter not simply be let in by showing proof of:


    I know, there is a big chance of gaming it, but don't all systems have that?

  •  No way. (0+ / 0-)

    If the feds were in charge, George W Bush would be running election registration, etc. this time.  How do you think that would be working?

    We're doing better this year because we have Democratic officials in key states now in charge of the process -- Ohio, PA, VA.  Think about it.  Think about the winning battles fought this year by the Dem elections director in Ohio, etc.  Those advantages would have been nullified (or nonexistent) had a federal agency under the administration of W been in charge.

    Theory vs. reality.  Nah, lets keep the feds out of it.  (Answer is a revamped NAVA under Dem control of Congress, with Obama signing it before the '10 midterm election.)

  •  McCain voter FRAUD! (footage) (0+ / 0-)

    McCain's voter FRAUD! it's happening right now!

    Click for Youtube Footage!

  •  MCCAIN = VOTER FRAUD (0+ / 0-)

    A hilarious satire about McCain's voter fraud a must see for this election day!

    Click... Because this could be you!

  •  Studs was a true American (0+ / 0-)

    He defined patriotism. Do all you can to make your country better.

    Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought. - Graham Greene

    by exbaptist on Fri Oct 31, 2008 at 03:00:14 PM PDT

  •  When I lived in London (0+ / 0-)

    Every autumn I received a voter registration form sent out by the local council. I had a habit of not filling it out and returning it. They sent me a post card listing the penalty for not returning the form. It was a fine and or jail. The list was updated every October and was held at the local library.  You can go to the library anytime to check your registration.

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