Since about late November I’ve been meaning to write a post about voting, particularly in the United States; the fact that I’ve waited so long means that stuff has changed in the interim, but I’ve stuck a bunch of relevant links spanning the last 6 months below the fold. So the only remaining point of this post is to record the voting-related epiphany I had this year:
If you believe in the basic principles of pluralistic democracy, you’re more or less obligated to believe that voting should be an easy, inclusive process. In the US, of course, voting is not easy for a great many people. I used to believe that the “right answer” to this problem was to make election day a national holiday. The past couple of elections have made me realize that this is actually superfluous — the right solutions are same-day voter registration and, more importantly, early voting. Mail-in voting as per Oregon and Washington is perhaps the ideal form of this innovation, but even in-person voting for a week or two in advance of the vote-counting would do. There’s simply no reason whatsoever that voters should all have to show up in a small window of time in order to register their preferences. With adequate early voting, basically every other problem becomes a minor issue. So, that’s what we (and everyone else) should do.
Many (especially urban) areas suffer from long lines or malfunctioning equipment, roll purging and felon disenfranchisement exclude voters (sometimes in accordance with bad state laws, sometimes illegally), the Republican party had increasingly supported voter ID laws designed to exclude Democratic voters, and our hard right-wing Supreme Court justices seem very likely to overturn the Voting Rights Act. Links:
- More Americans voted for Democratic representatives: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/11/07/1159631/americans-voted-for-a-democratic-house-gerrymandering-the-supreme-court-gave-them-speaker-boehner
- Sam Wang house bias estimates: http://election.princeton.edu/2012/11/09/the-new-house-with-less-democracy/