Hillary Clinton’s call for universal automatic voter registration is a major positive development in the voting wars. She puts the national Democratic Party squarely behind Oregon’s recent innovative registration law. As Cass Sunstein says at View, Americans don’t need to register with the government to be entitled to other rights; voting shouldn’t be any different. It’s pretty simple: If we want everyone to participate, then voting should be easy. Voter registration in the U.S. is a real, and unnecessary, hurdle. That’s no coincidence: Registration was originally set up around the turn of the previous century in part by those concerned that the wrong kinds of people (mostly recent immigrants from southern and eastern Europe) would vote. There are plenty of ideas to make voting easier, but removing registration as a hurdle is the big one, on both a practical and theoretical level.
As a practical matter, political scientists have repeatedly found that making registration easy will increase turnout. Indeed, the evidence when it comes to some voting reforms (early and absentee voting, making Election Day a holiday) is mixed. Some political scientists find “substitution” effects — in many cases, early voting just allows people who would vote anyway to do so at more convenient times, but it doesn’t encourage new voters to participate (for a review of the evidence, see this new paper). But automatic or simpler registration works.
Full Article: Hillary Sides With Democracy – Bloomberg View.