The Case for Automatic Voter Registration

Increasing voter turnout in the U.S. will mean addressing the obstacles that keep people from participating at each step of the process.  Currently in most U.S. states the first hurdle is getting registered to vote. Increasing voter registration is often difficult because it has to happen months before an election when there is less excitement and less motivation to take action. This may seem like an inevitable challenge of the democratic process but the truth is that voter registration is only an impediment to participation because most places require people to take action and opt in to registering. Making the process of voter registration automatic removes the first obstacle to voting, facilitates increased participation, and can help make sure that the voter rolls are more accurate and current.

The process of automatic voter registration (AVR) is fairly simple and basically what it sounds like; a person is automatically registered to vote when they apply for a driver’s license, or depending on the state, complete other state paperwork. In AVR states, when someone fills in the paperwork to get a license their information goes directly from the DMV to the election office and then they are registered as a voter unless they take steps to opt out. As of this summer, 10 states and DC have some form of AVR.

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How Ranked Choice Voting Increases Campaign Civility

By changing the math of how votes are counted, Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) changes the calculations that candidates make when deciding how to campaign. Plurality voting is a zero sum game where each candidate either gets your vote or doesn’t; one candidate’s loss is their opponent’s gain so there is strong incentive for each candidate to attack the other. In terms of election outcomes it doesn’t matter if a candidate gets a vote because voters like them, or if they get it because voters hate their opponent.

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Amicus Briefs on SC Gerrymandering case – Is The Tide Finally Turning?

Credit: Flickr https://flic.kr/p/92AJmt

On October 3, the Supreme Court will hear the Oral Arguments in Gill v. Whitford, a case where voters challenged Wisconsin’s state assembly map.

From the Brennan Center article:

The briefs forcefully refute the familiar argument that partisan gerrymandering is mainly about whether Democrats or Republicans come out on top electorally. For example, a brief filed by prominent Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Kasich, Bob Dole, and Dick Lugar, among others, asserts that “[i]f th[e Supreme] Court does not stop partisan gerrymanders, partisan politicians will be emboldened to enact ever more egregious gerrymanders . . . That result would be devastating for our democracy.”

Meanwhile, Senator John McCain—in a brief filed with Senator Whitehouse—warned that “[p]artisan gerrymandering has become a tool for powerful interests to distort the democratic process.” A bipartisan group of 65 current and former state lawmakers, and a bipartisan coalition of current and former members of Congress have also filed briefs in support of the plaintiffs.

You can read more about the case and the briefs filed here.  It’s worth a read.  This is an important case to watch.

A Massive Enthusiasm Gap

A lot of different theories and explanations are going to be discussed in the coming days as to what happened in this election.  I think it’s incredibly important to try to break through a lot of noisie and try to focus on root causes.  And in the end, in my opinion a key root cause is that Hillary was the wrong candidate for this time.  Look at the two data sets below.  

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