Voting? You have to really want it, Republicans say

Not that we needed more evidence of the polarized politics of America, but Pew Research reveals today that Democrats and Republicans can’t even agree on whether it should be easy to vote.

We’re not talking about voter fraud and perceived loopholes in the voter registration process so much as the issue of convenience.

It’s not enough to be able to vote, the Republicans seem to suggest. You have to show you really want to vote.

Here’s the poll’s bottom line:

Views about ease of access to voting also differ by age and by race and ethnicity. About seven-in-ten (71%) adults under age 30 believe that everything possible should be done to make it easy for every citizen to vote, while only about a quarter (27%) say that citizens should have to prove they want to vote by registering ahead of time. Although a majority of adults 30 and older (56%) also support making it easy for citizens to vote, roughly four-in-ten (42%) think citizens should have to register in advance.

Blacks are more likely than either whites or Hispanics to say voting should be made as easy as possible for citizens: 79% of blacks say this, while just 19% say citizens should have to prove they really want to vote by registering ahead of time. Among whites, a much narrower majority (54%) support making voting as easy as possible for all citizens (44% say citizens should prove they want to vote by registering ahead of time). By 64%-35%, most Hispanics support taking steps to make voting easy for all citizens.

There is one area of agreement between the warring factions: Few people think voting should be mandatory.

Far more curious perhaps, is the percentage of people who don’t seem to think individual rights are all that important.

  • Barton

    admittedly, I’m in the camp that believes voting should be mandatory for adults, just like filing taxes. But I would be very happy if registration was as easy as renewing your driver’s license in every state!

    When I lived in KC, MO as an adult, the second thing I did after arriving in town was register to vote (after getting an apartment lease). I was shocked when I went to vote and found that I was supposed to have saved that teeny, tiny slip of paper that said I was registered to vote. “Why do I need that paper? Isn’t my name down on your rolls already?” “Yes,” was the reply. “So why would I need a piece of paper to tell you what you already know?” I filed a provisional ballot b/c I know I didn’t have that piece of paper. My co-workers couldn’t understand why I thought the slip of paper was so useless, as they’d always needed it to vote. Easy, nationally applied, consistent and logical rules for elections.

    • Guest

      What is a voter roll for then?

    • BReynolds33

      The problem with a nationally applied set of rules for elections is that the elections are not federal. They are local elections. Even when you vote for President, it is still a local election.

      Now, if we flip the script, and put the Feds in charge, we would have issues with the local elections. Which, according to a fair amount of research, have far more affect on your day to day life than federal elections.

  • Guest

    WOULD the survey results vary IF it was stated only those eligible were able to vote? I’d venture the assumptions about stopping those who are “dead” or felons or not legal to vote drive much of the results

  • MrE85

    Minnesota remains a have for relatively “easy” voting, and will likely remain so as long as Democrats have a say in how voting is done here. We saw a huge increase in absentee voting last election, I think this trend will continue.

    • Robert

      I agree absentee voting will continue to increase just because it is so much more convenient. I wouldn’t change any of the requirements to vote, system seems to work well.

      • MrE85

        One bonus of the close elections/recounts we have had in this state is that it gives our election systems and safeguards are hard test, in real-world conditions. Turns out we do pretty well.

        • Robert

          Paper ballots should be mandatory across the US. Having a tangible record of every vote helps defeat some of the perceived “hacking” issues.

          • MrE85

            I agree wholeheartedly.

        • mnboy67

          I too have started to use absentee voting because of it’s convenience. I agree though with using paper ballots as well. Since there are WAY to many weak links in a truly secure computer system those shouldn’t be used at this point either. The only truly secure computer system is one that isn’t plugged into a network.

    • emersonpie

      Two problems with Minnesota’s current absentee voting law, which was recently changed to “no-excuse needed” absentee voting: Ballots are not run through the counter while you wait, so if you accidentally mis-voted, you won’t get a chance to correct it; and as we learned in 2008, many things can go wrong when election judges process an absentee ballot, from signature matching to properly witnessing the ballot. Better we should have actual in-person early voting for at least ten days before Election Day.

      • Kassie

        The reason they aren’t run right there is because of what happened to Wellstone. People need to be able to take back their vote if something tragic happens, or in the case of Montana, your candidate body slams a reporter for no reason.

        • We just had a union contract vote online. You could vote as many times as you like, but only the last one counts. Seems simple enough .

          • emersonpie

            Having served as an election judge, it would not be simple to process multiple absentee ballots for the same person. In order to supersede an earlier ballot, the Minnesota voter has to show up in person.

            Edit: My statements in my first and second responses seemed at odds (as I recall, my daughter in Japan COULD have changed her absentee vote by mail if there had been more time) so I looked it up. In 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that counties could reissue absentee ballots only upon request, not automatically as the DFL wanted. The AG and SOS stated that Minnesota law does not allow second ballots, but the MPR story cited below said that many counties, including Hennepin, disregarded the law and sent them anyway. And AG Mike Hatch said that in these cases the SOS would not object to the second ballot being counted.


        • emersonpie

          Many states do not allow an in-person vote to supersede an early vote. Minnesota does. I don’t think 2002 has ever been brought up as a reason not to change Minnesota’s practice. I agree it can happen – rarely, thankfully – but far more likely is a voter making an over-vote and not being allowed to fix it. BTW, many absentee voters had no recourse in 2002 because they were out of state and there was no way a ballot could be requested, sent out, and returned in

      • MrE85

        But you can get a “do over” if your absentee ballot is missing some key information needed to record and process your vote, if time allows. It happened to me the first time I voted absentee.

  • AL287

    When I renewed my driver’s license, my voter registration card arrived shortly after.

    Washington County must have linked voter registration to driver’s license renewals. If they did, they certainly made voter registration a lot more convenient.

    I also intend to use absentee voting in the next election. It’s a lot easier than waiting in a long line and standing on your feet for sometimes longer than an hour.

    I expect the midterm elections will have a higher than usual voter turnout because of the healthcare debate and the travel ban not to mention the Russia collusion investigation.

    • MrE85

      Since 1995, all states have been required to follow the federal “Motor Voter” law that offers those who get drivers licences an opportunity to register.

    • BJ

      > I expect the midterm elections will have a higher than usual voter turnout because of the healthcare debate and the travel ban not to mention the Russia collusion investigation.

      ha, ha, ha, ha oh boy that’s a good one. The percent will be down, and MAYBE even the total votes cast will be down.

      • AL287

        I suppose you are one of those who think their vote doesn’t make any difference.

        • BJ

          Nope, I think it makes all the difference in the world because hardly anyone cares to vote. Specifically in elections that don’t involve the President.

          I worked for many years as a campaign operative. I worked the numbers and they don’t lie. Get 50% +1 of the people who vote to vote for you and you win.

          The key is either get more or or less people to vote depending on who they will vote for.

  • Zachary

    There is the argument that “If you weren’t already registered to vote, it probably means you don’t think it’s important enough, and you probably weren’t paying attention, and how can we trust you to make an informed decision.”

    Mostly bogus, but has some merit.

    I have a mid-November birthday, and as a result turned 18 a week and half after election day, but I was already registered for the following year. I care about my vote – and I care about others ability to vote. Make it as easy as possible, while maintaining the integrity of the process.

    My dream is that everybody has an ID that they can swipe at any polling place, it prints out their local ballot, and they cast it there. Fewer Lines + a Paper Trail + ID security = happy me.

    • Postal Customer

      And when the printer breaks?

      • Zachary

        Ideally, there would be a backup system – but otherwise, you would just have to go to your normal polling place to cast your ballot.

    • L. Foonimin

      ” … everybody has an ID that they can swipe at any polling place,…” next comes “Wo sind Ihre Papiere”

      • Zachary

        “V moyem karmane, drug”
        I never said it was a good dream, or even a practical one – but the intent is to keep the integrity of the individual vote.
        I am who I say I am – this is my vote that I am casting, and I am casting it in the correct place.
        The trick of course is how do you manage all of that, AND keep it simple.

  • Rob

    Convenience is fine for some consumer situations; it’s why fast food places and coffee shops have drive-throughs. But I draw the line on making voting easier/more convenient. I think people should have to successfully compete in an American Gladiator-like event in order to be eligible to vote.

    • Why don’t we just make them pass literacy tests, then.

      • Ralphy

        Questions like ‘How many spot welds in a Chevy Volt’ or ‘Name the spouses of every US Senator’ should do the trick.

      • Rob

        Did I leave that out? If they get through the obstacle course, they’d then be required to do a literacy test.

    • DavidP

      An American Gladiator-like event…I like it.
      Candidates should have to go through that, so we can see what they are made of. They should have to take a series of tests: Civics, History, Sociology, Economics…. Their scores should be part of their public profile available to voters and printed on the ballots.
      I’d like to see their financial backers made public as well, but now I’m just being silly.

      • RBHolb

        There was a proposal in Montana (I think) a few years ago that every candidate for office take a written examination on the state and federal constitutions. The exam would be drafted by a bipartisan group of experts. A candidate would not be required to pass the test, but his or her score would be made a part of the public record.

        Frankly, I would be happy if candidates were required to give a candid statement of why they want to be elected. I have voted against candidates I thought would not be able to give a good answer to that question.

        • The only people able to run for office would be naturalized citizens.

          • BJ

            now you are on to something!

      • Rob

        Sure could have used it before the 2016 Prez election…

    • X.A. Smith

      I think we could just do away with voting. People who want public office should have to take and hold it by force.

      • Rob

        The ones with the most mini-guns and hand grenades win!

  • Ralphy

    I am concerned about attempts to limit day of registration or required period of residency.
    These clearly are attempts to knock college students and homeless/transient citizens from the ranks of eligible voters.
    It would also affect folks residing in assisted living/nursing care facilities. It is not uncommon for them to be moved from one room to another due to level of care needs. Technically, their address changes with the room number (like moving from one apartment to another in the same building).

    The GOP voter ID push that was defeated at the polls two elections ago would have done exactly that – knocked all of the above off of the voting rolls.

  • Rex Schultrich

    Voting eligibility should not be a difficult process; in fact, it should be just the opposite. We should not be trying to determine if a citizen is worthy of voting, instead we should teach people the value of voting and civics beginning in grade school.

  • Karl Crabkiller

    In Mexico you need a national voter ID to vote. To get one you go to the nearest IFE office, or wait for them to visit your municipal. One needs a birth certificate or document showing you are a citizen, proof of address (utility bill), you sign your name 4 times for proof of signature, fingerprints and an photo. When you pick up the card – must do it in person you are fingerprinted again. The card is valid for 10 years. No one complains about the process as it has virtually eliminated voter fraud which was rampant here before the reforms.

    • RBHolb

      “. . . which was rampant here before the reforms.”

      And therein lies the crucial difference. Voter fraud is a rare thing in the U.S.

    • Kassie

      Oh yeah, and the Mexican government now has every citizen’s fingerprints on file and can use them against them. I’ve made it to 40 years old without giving the government my fingerprints and I have no interest in changing that.

  • lindblomeagles

    We shouldn’t be surprised young and Black voters want voting easy. Keep in mind, BOTH groups needed an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to vote, and Blacks STILL REQUIRED FEDERAL INTERVENTION TO VOTE from 1865 – 1965 after the Amendment passed because whites kept making voting difficult for Blacks to do. That still hasn’t changed, which is why Blacks were infuriated by the Supreme Court’s decisions to gut the 1965 Voting Rights’ Act. Young people have become more politically active since Obama’s run for office. They see too many older whites, mostly Republican (but some Democrats too), being okay with young poverty and working poor rates as well as a lack of quality health care. I wonder if women voters feel the same way as Blacks and young people.