Then you should register to vote, no? And consider becoming someone who can register others to vote, too. Here in KC, the Election Board can make you a deputy registrar in one short training session, if you’re a registered voter in the KC part of Jackson County.
You can also help keep the hanky panky at bay by getting involved in the non-partisan Election Protection program.
Heidi filled me in on all this over lunch, yesterday.
Reading this reminded me of something I wondered about. *Warning*: Ignorant Brit learning about US culture question (so don’t laugh). This registration business is not an issue over here in the UK: Do you *have* to register in order to be able to vote in presidential (or other?) elections in the US? Here, inclusion on the electoral register is pretty much automatic, on a household basis; indeed, it’s (theoretically) a legal requirement to give accurate information for the register when requested (which is done on a fairly regular basis). And once you’re on the register you get your polling card automatically for all elections and referenda. The only group I can think of that is specifically excluded from the electoral roll are prisoners in jail… and as campaigners point out, the homeless are often effectively excluded.
Yes, one must register to vote in America, Sharon. Movements towards making registration as easy as possible, however, have met with resistance. Although I don’t have a link to support this claim, I believe the National Voter Registration Act (colloquially known as the “Motor Voter Act”), which was passed only in 1993, had a tough time getting through our Congress and the Senate.
The Act stipulates, in part, that “Each State motor vehicle driver’s license application (including any renewal application) submitted to the appropriate State motor vehicle authority under State law shall serve as an application for voter registration with respect to elections for Federal office unless the applicant fails to sign the voter registration application.” Even this, however, is no guarantee of registration if the Department of Motor Vehicles decides to fill in the “no” box for you under “Register to Vote?”, which is what happened both to me and to fellow KC Blogger Travis Swicegood.
It’s also somewhat puzzling that America continues to insist upon election days falling on workdays, instead of on the weekend.
Thanks for that.
We always have elections on weekdays too (although stations are open long hours, and most people live no more than a few minutes walk from their polling station anyway). However, our beloved government wants to switch to an all postal vote system… much concern about fraud, cards getting lost in the post, etc.
But, George… We’ve always done it that way. Why, if we change our election day we’ll lose complete touch with our roots. This wouldn’t even be America any longer!
Or that’s the best argument I’ve heard for keeping the “first Tuesday after the first Monday in November” argument. :)
Actually, I’m for a multi-day vote. Putting it on Saturday would piss off some of the traditional Christians and Jews, putting it on Sundays would have the whole Evangelical movement moving to South Carolina and accelerating their plans, so why not create a voting period that lasts five days? Say Wednesday through Sunday or Friday through Tuesday and end on the “real voting day”.
The only excuse I can think of for not extending the voting period is because more people might actually vote. Instead of waking up Wednesday and saying “Doh, I forgot yesterday I could vote” when they see the paper, they’d see that voting started yesterday and might actually go vote and heaven forbid the “people” actually start voting. That might give them the idea that they could actually get things changed, make a difference with their vote, you know… that stuff that has no business in politics.
Sharon, I’m all for coming up with some innovative ways to streamline voting and make it easier for everyone, but relying on the postal system, unless the British system is leaps and bounds better than the USPS would seem rather… well, dumb. I think you’re right, it could lead to all sorts of fraud since postal services generally aren’t the most security conscious, but more importantly it would sort of be like creating buses that were horse-drawn instead of powered by motors because “horses have been around a long time…” Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if those “in charge” of the countries of this world are not technophobic.
It’s highly doubtful that the Royal Mail is leaps and bounds better than anybody’s postal service. (They always say, well, we deal with millions of letters, it’s only a handful that goes astray; but the point is that this would involve millions of letters being sent out all at once, wouldn’t it?) As things stand, you can request a postal vote if you want/need one. Fine. The government’s idea that all postal voting will encourage more people to vote sounds dumb to me. You still have to go out and post it, just as you have to walk down the road to the polling station… And yes, it’s hardly making the most of up to date technology, is it? But that would mean having to invest a lot of resources in ensuring that everyone had equal access to the technology, I suppose. Oh, and I can already imagine the (hugely expensive) mess they would make of developing software…
Travis, we do have a multi-day vote in a back-door kind of way–in KCMO at least. For larger elections, the KC Board of Elections has satellite locations through the city for absentee voting. They’re open a couple of weeks before the election, all day M-F and shorter hours on Saturdays. I’ve voted that way in the last couple of elections.
But don’t refer to it as “early” voting in front of one of the election judges. One of them sharply corrected me when I called it that.
I am now a deputy registrar! I get to administer an oath! And in two days I’m going out of state, so my geeky patriotic delight will have to be delayed since I won’t get to register anyone to