Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Drawing Lines, Positions on 'Voting Wars'

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Drawing Lines, Positions on 'Voting Wars'

Article excerpt

As we approach the 2018 and 2020 elections, there are knock-down, drag-out battles being waged across the country between liberals who want to expand voting rights and conservatives who want to restrict them in the name of preventing alleged voter fraud. These battles involve contests in legislative chambers and courts over such issues as (1) ease of voter registration; (2) photo IDs of voters; (3) time and ease of casting ballots; (4) purging voter rolls; (5) disfranchisement of ex-felons; and (6) partisan gerrymandering.

Election Day Registration (EDR): To be eligible to cast a ballot in Florida, an otherwise eligible voter must register 29 days before an election. But in 13 states and the District of Columbia, an eligible voter can register and vote on Election Day: California, Connecticut, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Vermont, Wisconsin and Wyoming. The governor of Maine recently attempted to repeal that provision, but was overruled by the Legislature. The New Jersey Legislature passed such a bill in 2016, but it was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Those states use different methods of enforcement to prevent unauthorized voting. Some require the voter to submit a provisional ballot, which is not counted until residence and eligibility can be verified – which is not all that difficult or time-consuming in the digital age. Others allow voters to vote right on the machine, and rely on punishment for perjury to prevent fraud – on the theory that it is not worth five years in jail to cast a single ballot.

Automatic registration: Ten states and the District of Columbia provide some type of automatic voter registration: It will be on the ballot in Nevada in November, after the governor vetoed the bill passed by the Legislature. Similar bills are pending in many other states.

Automatic registration provides that when eligible voters sign up for a driver's license, they are automatically placed on the voting rolls unless they opt out. Additionally, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) also requires that motor vehicle offices, as well as other public agencies, do the same; but that provision has been unevenly enforced.

Photo ID requirements: Mainly in states where Republicans control the governorship and both houses of the legislature, laws require a voter to show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. Democrats claim that these laws are aimed at non-white and young voters, largely Democratic constituencies, that are less likely to have driver's licenses or other such Ids. That claim is backed up by the fact that in some states, like Texas, gun permits are accepted but student IDs are not.

Supporters of photo IDs claim they are necessary to prevent fraud. But independent studies reveal that impersonation at the polls, the only type of illegal voting that such laws can prevent, is extremely rare. …

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