Why Tuesday in WaPo: VRA 2.0
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
We’ve often talked about the need for a Voting Rights Act 2.0 — we even held an event in Washington D.C. in 2011 with influential leaders in the voting community to help come up with what that might look like. Today, our co-founder and board member Norm Ornstein put ideas on paper for The Washington Post, and he’s got the twitterverse talking.
Great ideas from Norm Ornstein for a new Voting Rights Act. Separate federal ballot, weekend election day and more http://t.co/VZmVI5BwIN
— Jill Lawrence (@JillDLawrence) July 18, 2013
Norm Ornstein outlines a common-sense new Voting Rights Act that would make voting more universal and accessible http://t.co/W0QkizDRQK
— Dan Froomkin (@froomkin) July 18, 2013
Here are some of the ideas Norm proposes:
● A separate federal ballot. Congress has the clear constitutional right to manage federal elections. A separate ballot for federal races strengthens that control. Other advantages include no more confusing butterfly ballots; there would be no more than three races (president, Senate and House) on a federal ballot. No more provisional ballots or access denied if someone shows up at the wrong polling place; the vote would still count only for those federal offices.
● A new voter registration regime. The United States is the only major democracy where the burden of registering to vote is on the citizen. The default should be that eligible citizens are presumed registered, with same-day voter registration available for those not registered via their draft registration or driver’s license. Ideally, Congress would provide the funds to modernize voter registration lists and create a 21st-century voting process in which voters could get personalized ballots printed, with all the offices they are eligible to vote on, at any polling place in their vicinity. Why shouldn’t Americans be able to vote at any nearby polling center?
● Weekend Election Day. As WhyTuesday.org has pointed out, the law mandating federal elections on Tuesdays was crafted in 1845 to accommodate Market Day. “Election Day” should suit contemporary American life: a 24-hour period from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, with early voting the week before. This would eliminate “rush-hour” backlogs early in the morning and at the end of the day, as well as Sabbath problems. If Wal-Mart can stay open 24/7, our democracy can stay open 24 hours once every two years.