I’m writing this about an hour after we learned three Florida races are headed for recounts and the same may happen in the contest for Georgia’s governor. All of this is happening against the backdrop of a midterm that saw the highest voter turnout of any midterm election since 1970–in spite of the GOPS voter suppression efforts.
The last five days have reminded us of the massive problems with our election system and the ways politicians game that system for their advantage. Below are several ideas that would dramatically improve the fairness of our elections. If enacted, they would go a long way to guarantee that every American can vote and trust their vote will be counted. That means if we don’t demand these changes, politicians will never consider them.
Every American Citizen Should Get a Vote
The idea that every American citizen should be able to vote shouldn’t be debated. With the Voting Rights Act of 1965 having been destroyed by the Supreme Court and voter suppression being all the rage on the right, a constitutional amendment is needed. The amendment should be very simple: every American citizen has the right to vote in every national, state, and local election.
Automatic Voter Registration
In 2015, Oregon became the first state to adopt automatic voter registration. Currently, 15, states have automatic voter registration. More than a third of Americans live in states where voter registration is automatic.
Voters are automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license or ID card. In some states, 16 year olds are entered into the database when they get permits. When they turn 18, they are automatically registered to vote.
Without doing anything people have the right to vote. The states benefit because they don’t have to manage a system of voter registration. Since the voter registration can update when someone changes their address with DMV, its much harder to deny people the right to vote on technicalities.
Instead of one election day, voting should take place over Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (which would be a national holiday). Allowing three days for voting, one of them being a holiday, would make voting more convenient. People could more easily fit voting into their lives. Lines would be much shorter. Poll workers would have an easier time dealing with the smaller rush.
An ID for Voting
If the following conditions are met, I’m not against requiring an ID for voting:
- America creates a national ID card
- The ID card is free
- Getting an ID card is tied to voter registration through the state DMVs
- Whether a person is registered with an ID is something local officials can easily look up if the person doesn’t have the physical card
I included the last one because the idea behind requiring an ID card to vote is to limit voter fraud. So, the process shouldn’t require someone to know the location of their physical ID card.
If this change was instituted, everyone could vote and everyone would have an ID they could use for the other times ID is required.
That’s what I have for now. What do you think? What changes to our voting system would you make?