As .Sean at Fired Up correctly notes, the Right will soon pitch a hissy fit over the Saint Louis Election Board’s allegation that a handful of voters improperly voted in the Saint Louis area last year. He’s also correct in predicting that the Right will work hard to ignore the fact that forcing voters to present a government issued photo ID in order to cast a ballot will do virtually nothing to stop someone whose registered address is at a vacant lot from casting their ballot.

There are all sorts of problems with voter registration in this country. For example, the collection of data and portability are both problematic. Poor handwriting on the registrant’s part and/or bad eyesight at the data entry end could register someone’s address down the street at a vacant lot or boarded up home instead of their correct address. And many people don’t understand that you need to update your voter registration every time you move. I had to convince the janitor at my day job that she needed to reregister at her home address – she had voted every election day with her mother since she lived at home decades ago, even though her mother lives in another legislative district!

Typically, those on the Right who like to bang on the table about “voting reform” really just mean they want to put up additional hurdles to voting. But Michael Connery over at Future Majority shares some thoughts on how we might address issues like making sure voter registrations are accurate and up to date AND make sure as many voters as possible are registered and able to vote.

  • A federal mandate should be passed to require affirmative and automatic registration. Specified and privacy-protected data transfers and information sharing should occur from federal and state databases to the state voter rolls as a means of continuously updating the list. By eliminating the data entry and duplicate and error verification follow-up responsibilities of local officials, there will be large cost savings at the county level.
  • Federal funding should be provided to make it possible for states to implement this mandate.
  • States should also use specified private database transfers or information sharing to keep citizens on the rolls permanently at their most up-to-date address.
  • States should perform same-day balloting as a catch-all for citizens.