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Hasen: Let’s Run Elections Properly

By Matthew Yglesias  

"Hasen: Let’s Run Elections Properly"


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Rick Hasen has the correct proposal that would let us avoid these every-two-years allegations of voter fraud and suppression — do voter registration like other modern democracies:

The solution is to take the job of voter registration for federal elections out of the hands of third parties (and out of the hands of the counties and states) and give it to the federal government. The Constitution grants Congress wide authority over congressional elections. The next president should propose legislation to have the Census Bureau, when it conducts the 2010 census, also register all eligible voters who wish to be registered for future federal elections. High-school seniors could be signed up as well so that they would be registered to vote on their 18th birthday. When people submit change-of-address cards to the post office, election officials would also change their registration information.

This change would eliminate most voter registration fraud. Government employees would not have an incentive to pad registration lists with additional people in order to keep their jobs. The system would also eliminate the need for matches between state databases, a problem that has proved so troublesome because of the bad quality of the data. The federal government could assign each person a unique voter-identification number, which would remain the same regardless of where the voter moves. The unique ID would prevent people from voting in two jurisdictions, such as snowbirds who might be tempted to vote in Florida and New York. States would not have to use the system for their state and local elections, but most would choose to do so because of the cost savings.

Since some people drop out of high school, you would need some other entry points. But that’s the basic shape of the system — a nationally administered registration scheme that keeps track of what’s going on, instead of a system that relies on “registration drives” to get people signed up, and a whole bunch of separate authorities to keep track of whether they’re signed up legitimacy.

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