Is the tide turning on voting rights? Leading up to the 2012 election, state legislatures passed dozens of laws to make it more difficult to cast a ballot. Last year, the Supreme Court gutted a key voting rights protection. Despite ongoing shenanigans in some parts of the country, things look much brighter two months into 2014, with increasing public bipartisan support for making our elections more free, fair, and accessible. Look at what has happened this year already. Last month, the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration (co-chaired by the heads of both President Obama and Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns) agreed on common-sense recommendations to improve elections, including ideas to expand early voting and modernize registration. Bipartisan leaders in Congress introduced a bill to strengthen the Voting Rights Act (revisions made necessary after the Supreme Court eviscerated one of its most powerful tools against discriminatory election practices). And, this month, Attorney General Eric Holder and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky — unlikely bedfellows in almost any policy debate — each spoke out in favor of restoring voting rights to people with past criminal convictions.
This bipartisan trend to advance voting rights has spread to at least some states, as well. Last week in Nebraska, the state legislature unanimously approved a bill that will allow Cornhuskers to register to vote online and require the Department of Motor Vehicles to electronically transfer voter information to the county election administrator’s office. These kinds of modernization efforts deliver proven benefits. Research shows that digitizing registration increases the accuracy of the voter rolls, boosts registration rates, curbs the possibility of fraud, and saves states considerable time and money. Online registration is also more convenient for voters and election officials.
The Nebraska law puts into practice two of the voting commission’s top ideas to improve elections administration in this country. And like the commission, the state’s law exemplifies the emerging theme of bipartisan support for pro-voter reforms. The bill was introduced by Republican State Sen. Bob Krist, at the behest of Republican Secretary of State John Gale, and was supported by senators across the political spectrum in Nebraska’s nonpartisan legislature. Watching a voter-friendly bill sail through in a red state shows that policies benefiting all voters need not divide lawmakers along old and tired party lines.
Full Article: Good news on voting rights, despite Ohio | MSNBC.