Voter registration

The State Senate has just approved a horrible, horrible bill on elections.  The focus is going to be on Voter ID, but easily the worst provision is the elimination of same-day registration (SDR) on early voting days.   My friend Barry Burden is the man on this stuff.  He had a great piece in the NYT a couple years back and he’s got a forthcoming PS article that’s a tour-de-force on the issue.  What he and his Wisconsin colleagues have found is that early voting without SDR actually reduces turnout.  Meanwhile, the evidence is clear that SDR, especially on election day itself, is huge boost to turnout (up to 7 percentage points).   So, in short, the Republicans are proposing we move to the worst possible system if you actually care about voter turnout (I’m about 100% sure they don’t).

I’m not going to say a lot now as I actually spent a good chunk of today writing an Op-Ed about this (N&O better take it!).  More when that hopefully gets published.  But here’s a nice summary of the horrible-ness from State Senator Josh Stein’s FB page:

If anyone had any doubt about the bill’s intent to suppress voters, all he/she has to do is read it. The bill now does the following:

*shortens early voting by 1 week,
*eliminates same day registration and provisional voting if at wrong precinct,
*prevents counties from offering voting on last Saturday before the election beyond 1 pm,
*prevents counties from extending poll hours by one hour on election day in extraordinary circumstances (like lengthy lines),
*eliminates state supported voter registration drives and preregistration for 16/17 year olds,
*repeals voter owned judicial elections and straight party voting,
*increases number of people who can challenge voters inside the precinct, and
*purges voter rolls more often.

Meanwhile, it floods the democratic process with more money. The bill makes it easier for outside groups to spend on electioneering and reduces disclosure of the sources. It also raises the contribution limits to $5k per person per election from $4k and indexes to amount to rise with inflation.

We will debate the bill in Rules Committee tomorrow at 2 pm. This is a sad day for our democracy.

Meanwhile, the House voter ID provisions which had been quite reasonable, as these things go, have been totally gutted and replaced with far more draconian provisions.  So disgusting.  A sad day for democracy indeed.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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