By Paul Gorski
I recently wrote a column, “Meet John Doe: Online voter registration is a bad idea,” June 26-July 2 issue (http://rockrivertimes.com/2013/06/26/meet-john-doe-online-voter-registration-is-a-bad-idea/) sharing my preference for in-person, face-to-face voter registration, rather than a faceless, online, Internet-based process. My primary goal is to reduce the chance of fraud.
Reader “Tom Brace” commented that my thinking was backward and that other states successfully use online voter registration. I responded to his comments, noting his examples might be flawed. But he did raise a good point: how can we use today’s technology to make voter registration easier. Read the comments online at the original article link above.
Congress tried making voter registration easier 20 years ago by passing the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, commonly known as the “motor voter law,” which requires states to allow voter registration when applying for a driver’s license or social services,
Technology has changed since 1993. Our state databases already store our basic name and address information. Rather than just allowing voter registration when you apply for a driver’s license, state ID card, or state services like Medicaid, which you do in person, make it automatic. As soon as you apply for those services, and you are eligible to register, you are registered.
Today’s computer database technology could pass a voter’s name and address to the central voter registration database without having to fill out any other forms. Then, there would be no need to create another costly online voter registration system, because we’d be using our existing records stored in other state database systems.
Not all voters would be registered this way, but a majority could be. The motor voter law also allows for mail registration using a standard federal form, that form could be used by anyone not applying for the licenses or aid listed above, or one could fill out a voter registration form at our election office.
I thank Tom for inspiring me to look at other solutions. My key concern about in-person registration would be addressed, the process simplified, and we would avoid the cost of implementing an online registration system.
What do you think about being automatically registered to vote when you get or update your driver’s license or apply for state social services? Comment below.
Paul Gorski (http://www.paulgorski.com) is a Cherry Valley Township resident who also authors the Tech-Friendly column seen in this newspaper.
From the July 10-16, 2013, issue