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National Issues

Feingold, Klobuchar, Ellison Work to Make Voting Easier for All Americans PDF  | Print |  Email
By Senator Dianne Feingold Press Release   
May 01, 2008
Bill Allowing Election Day Registration is Introduced Following Supreme Court Decision Allowing Laws Impeding the Right to Vote

U.S. Senators Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) are introducing legislation to help more Americans register to vote by allowing Election Day registration at polling places for all federal elections. The Election Day Registration Act addresses chronic problems with the American electoral process – low voter turnout and archaic voter registration laws.

Election Day registration is also seen as preferable to advance registration since voters are actually present when they register, reducing opportunities for fraud. The bill’s introduction comes days after the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana voter ID law that seriously impedes the ability of elderly and low-income Americans to vote. Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Jon Tester (D-MT), who represent states that recently enacted Election Day registration, are also cosponsors of the bill.

“The right to vote is at the heart of our democracy, and we should constantly be looking for ways to make it easier for Americans to exercise that right,” Feingold said. “Election Day registration has worked well in Wisconsin for more than 30 years and is a major reason why Wisconsin is a national leader in voter turnout. By allowing people to register in person on Election Day, we can bring more people into the process, which only strengthens our democracy.”

“For over 33 years, Minnesota’s same day registration law has helped produce the highest voter turnout of any state,” said Klobuchar. “Same day registration works, it encourages people to be engaged and interested in the issues facing our country – this bill gives a voice to every American who wants to vote.”

“In America, our right to vote is a sacred right, and a moral obligation,” Ellison stated. “We must do everything that encourages, fosters and facilitates everyone’s ability to exercise that right. Enacting a National Election Day Registration law will help counter this deeply flawed Supreme Court ruling that disenfranchises thousands of voters from our most vulnerable communities – the poor, elderly and minority communities.”

Since 1968, American political participation has hovered at around 50 percent for presidential elections and 40 percent for congressional elections. Even in 2004, a record-breaking year, turnout was only 55 percent of the voting age population. Election Day registration is a proven way to increase voter turnout. In 2004, in states which allowed Election Day registration, turnout was over 70 percent compared to 54 percent in states which do not allow it. Election Day registration can also be a cost saver by reducing the need for provisional ballots.

Allowing Election Day registration can also address concerns about potential voter fraud. Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie has called Election Day registration a “no brainer” and has said it is more secure than advance registration because “you have the person right in front of you – not a postcard in the mail.”
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