National Voter Registration Day

Today has been designated National Voter Registration Day by a variety of organizations that are holding cooperative registration events around the country today. But it’s also a good time to make the argument that voting is a right, not a privilege (despite the ConCon claim to the contrary), and that public policy should encourage, not discourage, voter registration and access to the ballot itself, to the maximum extent consistent with election integrity. “It’s too expensive” or ” we don’t have enough staff” or “anyone who really wants to vote can do so” are excuses we should no longer take seriously.

A report out today from ProjectVote usefully looks at various measures states have taken to regulate–and in all too many cases, simply harass–those who carry out large-scale voter registration efforts. They range from innocuous-sounding registration requirements for registration canvassers (some of them generated by the Right’s obsession with the ACORN myth), to the states that require proof of citizenship not just to vote but to register, to efforts to virtually ban “third-party” voter registration drives. ProjectVote actually endorses bans on payment of canvassers on a per-registration basis, but warns that most restrictions are intentionally or unintentionally too burdensome and have no real justification other than partisanship.

It’s a good day to register to vote, or to volunteer to register other folks. It’s a good way to effectively respond to the cynics and ideologues who view voter suppression as an effective political tool.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.