A few weeks ago, a Massachusetts government agency you’ve probably never heard of settled a lawsuit over what kinds of forms it has to hand out to people who apply for welfare. That might sound dull, but it’s the backdrop for a fight against growing political and economic inequality. The lawsuit, brought by a coalition of nonprofit voting-rights groups, charged that the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance was in violation of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, which requires agencies that offer public assistance to help their clients register to vote. The coalition claimed the department wasn’t handing out voter-registration forms or taking other steps to ensure that people who wanted to register did.
To appreciate why that matters, consider that Americans are less likely to cast ballots than people in almost every other developed country, and the poorest Americans are about half as likely to vote as the wealthiest.
That reduces the incentive for politicians in either party to protect or expand programs that help low-income voters. Without closing the turnout gap, meaningful progress against inequality is hard.
How attainable is the goal of boosting turnout? Not as hard as you might think. The key appears to be making it easier to register. For the population as a whole, those earning from $10,000 to $15,000 were 52 percent less likely to vote in 2012 as those who made $150,000 or more. Among registered voters, that gap shrank to 16 percent.
Full Article: The Voting Law That’s Being Ignored – Bloomberg View.