Why force citizens to register in order to vote?Secretary of State Alex Padilla raised that question this year when he proposed a law that would automatically register every eligible voter with a driver’s license. “One of the biggest barriers to citizen participation is the voter registration process,” he said. “A new, enhanced California motor-voter law would strengthen our democracy.”Many Democrats in Sacramento — and beyond — agree.Oregon’s governor recently signed an automatic voter registration bill. And this month, Hillary Rodham Clinton called for automatic, universal voter registration as well as a 20-day early voting window. She also accused her Republican rivals of “a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other.” It is generally thought that automatic voter registration would benefit Democrats and hurt Republicans. So it’s safe to assume that politicians on both sides of the aisle are biased by that knowledge. Still, it’s possible to set partisan considerations aside and have an apolitical, substantive debate on the issue.
Conservative pundit Dan Foster favors allowing ex-convicts to vote, even though doing so would harm the prospects of Republicans. But while he favors a near-universal franchise, he is wary of making voter participation easier than it already is.
“The need to register to vote is just about the most modest restriction on ballot access I can think of,” he wrote recently, “which is why it works so well as a democratic filter: It improves democratic hygiene because the people who can’t be bothered to register (as opposed to those who refuse to vote as a means of protest) are, except in unusual cases, civic idiots. If you want an idea of what political discourse looks like when you so dramatically lower the burden of participation that civic idiots elect to join the fray, I give you the Internet.”
Full Article: The merits of universal voter registration – LA Times.