Voting should be simple for all those eligible to cast a ballot


Flickr CC: Ken Jones

Regardless of color or ability, all eligible voters should be able to walk into a polling place and cast a ballot.

As an unconventional election comes to a close after Nov. 3, an important and controversial topic has been brought to light once again; automatic voter registration. With the prospect of a new leader, it is more important than ever that those who are eligible to vote register and vote before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 since any ballots received in Minnesota after that time will be set aside and may not be counted. Many people who are eligible to vote may not have the opportunity to do so because they discover that they are not registered upon coming to a polling location on election day. Automatic voter registration should be passed in every state to ensure that all who are eligible can use their voice.

Many low-income families and people of color are not able to vote because of a lack of accessibility to polling locations, voter suppression and intimidation, and a lack of information about voter registration. Documentary evidence of citizenship is necessary for registering to vote, but obtaining government issues prove of citizenship is both time-consuming and costly. The price for replacing a naturalization certificate, which is a common form of evidence of citizenship, can cost hundreds of dollars, which many low-income families cannot afford to pay. Thousands of polling places have been shut down in the last few years, especially in southern black communities, while many in majority-white areas remain open. The location of polling places can be used strategically to increase voter turnout in specific areas while suppressing the voices of minorities. The hassle of having to drive or travel further than necessary to vote in addition to going through the process of voter registration can prevent many eligible people from voting. Many people drive out of their way to a polling place to discover that they are not registered to vote. If voter registration was automatic in the United States, the voting process would be efficient and include more of the population.

Many people drive out of their way to a polling place to discover that they are not registered to vote. If voter registration was automatic in the United States, the voting process would be efficient and include more of the population.”

According to the United States Census Bureau, 85% of citizens with a family income of $150,000 or more voted in the 2016 election compared to the 57.7% of United States citizens with a family income of less than 10,000 dollars were able to vote. Similar statistics related to the percentage of white citizens and citizens of color who voted show that the elections do not often reflect the population’s diverse perspectives. If people from low-income families and people of color were registered to vote at the same rate as high-income families and white people, the balance of voices of people from different communities and backgrounds would be much more equal.

California implemented automatic voter registration that launched in 2018 and faced many issues that have caused voters to believe that this registration system could hurt voting numbers. A software error affected the registration of many voters and, in some cases, duplicated their registrations or made errors in party affiliation. At the time, resources and policies related to automatic voter registration were new and underdeveloped, which led to issues. As more states have enacted versions of automatic voter registration, the system has and continues to be developed to ensure efficiency and effectiveness. If the whole country implemented voter registration, more work and resources would be put into ensuring the system’s success.

The current voter registration system has prevented people from different races, ethnicities, and incomes from using their right to vote. Automatic voter registration would help include a diverse variety of perspectives in the democracy as more eligible voters would be able to participate in elections and know that their voice is being heard. To help the country move forward with this system, regardless of whether they are eligible to vote, people can sign petitions, research different forms of automatic voter registration, and contact their state representatives to support a national enactment of automatic voter registration.

The original image can be found at Flickr CC