The 2012 election is over, but there are still clear challenges to the integrity of our democracy. A wave of laws passed in the last two years to make it harder for millions of eligible Americans to vote. Fortunately, most of the worst were blocked or weakened. But they had a clear impact on Election Day — long lines and confusion at the polls, compounded by broken voting machines and poorly trained poll workers. As President Obama said in his speech, “We have to fix that.” Here are three ways to improve our democracy and bring it into the 21st century.
America’s voter registration system is ramshackle. It’s straight out of the 19th century, relying on paper forms to register voters. If a voter registers at the DMV, they have to fill out a form, that form is mailed to an election office, and a county official types it into a database. This is not only inefficient and costly, it’s prone to inaccuracy. One mistyped letter or number and a citizen can show up on Election Day and not be able to vote. Not only does it prevent that one voter from having their say, it also affects others by causing bottlenecks and long lines at the polls.
It is time to harness new technology to modernize our voting system, which would add more than 50 million eligible Americans to the rolls, permanently. The Brennan Center’s modernization proposal would use existing computerized lists to pass names of eligible voters from state agencies on to election officials. Citizens could also register or update their registration online or at the polls, and registrations would move with a voter when they move within a state. In recent years, at least 21 states — without fanfare and in a bipartisan way — have implemented parts of this proposal. These experiences demonstrate that modernization increases accuracy and registration rates, minimizes the potential for fraud, and saves money.
Full Article: Three Ways to Fix Our Democracy | Brennan Center for Justice.