Voting Rights for Everyone!

This afternoon I, presumably like a lot of people, raised an eyebrow when I read that officials were estimating a 119% voter turnout in today’s Wisconsin recall election. My mind first jumped to Tammany Hall and ballot stuffing, and I remembered a clip in Gangs of New York in which the Irish were getting haircuts by Mad-Eye Moody between votes. It turns out that such a high turnout number is actually possible in Wisconsin because the state allows same-day voter registration, something I didn’t even know existed. Election Day Registration, it turns out, is an option (in some form or another) in eight states and Washington, DC. This is hugely awesome, and I wish more states did this.

Arizona, like a lot of states, has some restrictions on voter registration. In the Copper State, on top of registering 30 days before elections, on election day you will also need one ID with your name, address, and photo or two forms of ID with your name and address. And a hope that you don’t accidentally go to the wrong polling station or you don’t have an early ballot sitting at home somewhere. Add on the misinformation floating around out there, and even registered voters can face obstacles to voting. Allowing same-day registration helps make it easier for people moving to still vote in their new districts, especially since students often move right around primary season in many states. I think the more people that can vote, regardless of who they’re voting for, the better.

That’s why I’m a huge supporter of #16toVote, or really any age to vote. I figure we’re all affected by government, we should have the ability to choose them. Lowering the age to 16 gives voting rights to people who often work, go to school, drive, and do a number of other things that are directly affected by the government. Plus, voting’s awesome. If you want to vote, you should be able to, regardless of your age. Or your citizenship.

In the United Kingdom, you don’t have to be a citizen to vote. Citizens of Commonwealth countries and Ireland can vote in all elections, and citizens of European Union countries can vote in local and regional elections. Immigrants live under the same laws as all of us – even undocumented immigrants drive on our roads and pay the same sales tax. Shouldn’t they have the right to vote? After all, taxation without representation is what our democracy was founded on. Plus, some states used to allow alien suffrage less than a century ago.

I guess the best decision would be to abolish voter registrations. North Dakota hasn’t had voter registration since 1951. That’s better than denying residents the vote because of some technicality involving school or poll stations or identification. I don’t know what methods they have of restricting by age or citizenship, but I’m sure they exist. If suffrage has spread from white, male, landowners over 20 to include women, people of color, and 18-year-olds, I figure it’s not outlandish to ask for a youth vote or for immigrant rights. Even if it might take a while.


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