Given that every citizen living in this country has the inherent right to vote in every election, it has always puzzled me why everyone has to register in order to do so. It makes no sense. Yes, some people are ineligible to vote, but the vast majority of people living in any state are eligible. For many years, we managed to allow virtually everyone to vote and voter fraud was almost non-existent.
Why wouldn’t it be? Voter fraud doesn’t happen because it’s a stupid crime; kind of like going into the bingo hall and pointing a gun at the caller and demanding all the bingo cards. It’s a truly stupid crime; how many would risk a fine, jail time and a criminal record to get an extra vote, after all? What does one get from voting an extra time or two, anyway? Since there are hundreds of thousands of potential voters in any district, unless someone could set up a “voting ring” to have thousands of voters vote a dozen or so times each. Then, there are the logistics; the cost of gas to get each voter from precinct to precinct, the ability to predict who won’t show up to vote and assume their identity. Then there’s the deal that precincts are very local and most voters are from no more than a mile away, which means there is a good chance the poll workers will recognize the name you’re using and know the fraudulent voter is, well, fraudulent.
And, as one would expect with it being a stupid crime and all, there are virtually no cases of voter fraud on record. In fact, in a comprehensive study of all elections from 2000-2014, researchers found 31 credible cases of voter fraud out of more than one BILLION votes. (Source: http://www.brennancenter.org/sites/default/files/analysis/The%20Truth%20About%20Voter%20Fraud.pdf )
Like I said, it’s a stupid law that makes no sense to pursue. A century and a half ago, voting multiple times may have been a good idea, but in a nation of 320 million and with some states having as many as 20-30 million population, there is little to nothing to gain from it these days. So, why is there still such a thing as voter registration anymore?
I mean, some states prohibit convicted felons to have voting privileges until they clear some hurdles, but they should be easy to track, especially at the district and precinct level. You just put lists of people who are ineligible to vote in with the voter rolls and the problem is solved.
This is 2018. Our computers, tablets and phones all know who we are and tech companies also know us, what we look like, where we live and who our friends are. Likewise, companies of all sizes and types seem able to track who we are, where we go and what we do. In this day and age, there is no reason we have to register voters. There is no reason in the world why we should also have to show ID. If you want to, fine; but why should you have to? What is the purpose of Voter ID laws? Again, there is no voter fraud because it’s a ridiculous crime.
There is only one reason in the world why Voter ID laws exist, and that is to create a barrier to voting. It was 1978 before I had a driver’s license with a picture on it, so people managed to vote for about 200 years without any sort of picture ID, since they didn’t exist, and the system managed to work just fine. There is simply no reason to force citizens who show up to the polls to vote to have to show identification, except to deny the vote to those who can’t produce one. There is no other reason.
A number of states have started to implement vote-by-mail systems, to make voting easier for people, while also producing a paper trail. And now, the state of Oregon is the first state to actually make sense and try to make it as easy as possible to vote. In that state, when someone obtains or renews a driver’s license or ID card, they will automatically be registered to vote. In fact, it’s so automatic, they will actually have to fill out a form to opt OUT of voting. If they don’t opt out, everyone in Oregon will automatically receive a mail-in ballot approximately three weeks before any election. That means any election; not just the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but every primary, every special election, and every proposition election.
Congratulations to Oregon. And all other states should follow this lead. The vote is a right, not a privilege, and it’s time we all started treating it like that. In every state, it should be against the law to purge a voter from the rolls for any reason other than their own personal request. All states should also consider stopping convicted felons from voting, once they have completed their sentence.
It’s time for a federal law that takes the Voting Rights Act a step further. Everyone should have the right to vote in all elections, without restriction, and no state or local authority should be able to abridge that right without due process. Our most sacred right is the right to participate in the democracy and it’s time we stopped allowing politicians to infringe on that right. Period.
Also published on Medium.