Here’s a novel idea: Let’s get more voters — not fewer — engaged. Let’s eliminate unnecessary restrictions that confuse people and deter participation. And let’s make voting more convenient, not less.
What would be so wrong with that?
That’s the question the American Civil Liberties Union is asking as it launches a new effort — dubbed “Let People Vote” — aimed at increasing citizen participation. Notably, the ACLU chose to kick off its nationwide campaign in Lawrence this week because Kansas has some of the most restrictive voting laws in the nation.
Kansas has spent the last several years throwing up roadblocks to voting. Secretary of State Kris Kobach has led the charge to root out largely imaginary voter fraud, intimidating voters along the way. The ACLU aims to provide a counterbalance, making the no-kidding argument that more people voting would actually be a good thing.
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That’s an idea everyone should support.
Sixteen states already do. The convenience of same-day registration has spurred increased turnout, attracting a wider cross-section of voters beyond hard-core party loyalists.
One added benefit is that politicians could be compelled to broaden their messages and appeal to a wider swath of voters, not just the far left or the far right.
And voters no longer would be forced to keep track of arbitrary registration deadlines weeks ahead of Election Day.
That’s just one policy Kansas could implement make to counteract current laws that make voting more difficult. Here are few more:
▪ Expand early voting.
▪ Allow permanent advanced voting.
▪ Withdraw from the flawed “crosscheck” system that is supposed to identify duplicate voters.
▪ Repeal Kobach-backed changes to state election law that have been a deterrent to voting.
This is how an engaged democracy is cultivated. And both Kansas and Missouri have work to do on that front.
The ACLU is leading this nonpartisan effort that voters of all political stripes should back. Encouraging voting shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Nineteen organizations, including the League of Women Voters, already have signed on.
But somehow, Kobach, a candidate for Kansas governor, isn’t convinced of the merits.
He threw down a challenge when asked to comment on the ACLU’s campaign. “I don’t think they’re likely to succeed in any of them,” he said of the plans to increase voter participation.