Making it Even Easier to Vote

It’s gotten so easy to vote nowadays. There is early (and often) voting, absentee voting, vote by mail, and I’m sure in the not too distant future there will be internet voting, right from one’s Smartphone.

Voting used to be a privilege – a process where a citizen would actually want to make an effort to register when they were of age. It was considered our civic duty and Americans took pride in the process, knowing that many countries don’t even afford their citizens the privilege to vote for anything or anyone. Citizens might listen to the candidates speak, read up on them, or maybe check their past voting records and where the candidates might stand on the issues they thought were important.

Yet, today it’s made out to be some great inconvenience – to go all the way to a city or town hall to register in person. Then you have to go to the polling place and cast a ballot for the candidate of your choice. It’s as if, by making the effort, they expect us to be informed enough to know where the candidates stand. Oh, the horror! 

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But that all seems so hard. Why can’t someone just make it easy, so we never have to make the slightest effort to register or vote? Why can’t we just Tweet our vote, or register on Facebook with our friends? Why can’t someone just develop a voting app?

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Well, I’m sure some democrat is working on all those possibilities – but in the meantime, one civic-minded Governor has made life in one state a lot easier.

That real news site (according to Hillary Clinton) Al Jazeera America reports that “Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed legislation Monday making Oregon the first state to have automatic voter registration, potentially adding 300,000 new voters to state rolls.” Wow – 300,000 new highly informed voters! That’s great!

This new law is “motor voter” registration on steroids.

Barry Burden, a professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (well-known conservative college) and the director of the Elections Research Center (no doubt an originalist constitutional think tank) said, “It just changes expectations for who’s responsible for making elections work.”

And how does it do this, you might ask? Well, old Barry is going to tell you. He says, “In every other state, it’s the responsibility for the voters to make sure it happens.” And we sure wouldn’t want the stupid voters to be responsible for registering themselves.

But the stupid and lazy need no longer worry about being discriminated against. Now, thanks to the Governor and a reasonable legislature, a “voter” doesn’t have to lift a finger for the right to cast a ballot. This new legislation will use “state Department of Motor Vehicles data to automatically register eligible voters whose information is contained in the DMV system, with a 21-day opt-out period for those who wish to be taken off the registry.”

“Supporters say the legislation’s goal is to keep young voters, students and working families who move often from losing their right to vote.”

Naturally, the state’s rascally republicans voted unanimously against the bill. But we all know they hate young voters, students, working families, and voting rights in general.

Yet, to my knowledge, Oregon still has a closed primary system, in that in order to vote in a primary one has also to register a party affiliation. I wonder how that will work.

Let’s see – democrat Governor – majority democrat legislature – automatic voter registration that, as the esteemed professor Burden says, will take that pesky “responsibility” for registering away from the voter. Will it also take that whole pesky choice of affiliation away? Hmmm. But hey – you still have that 21 day opt-out period, providing you receive it or even know what it is when you get it.

So as many republican controlled states pass tighter and frankly insulting voting restrictions like actually having to prove who you are to register and vote, at least one state is taking what Jonathan Gruber said to heart, realizing the “stupidity of the American voter.”

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