Tuesday, July 7, 2009

'Aye' for getting more Americans registered to vote

by Keith Myers
A large crowd of Republicans caucusing at the Matt Ross Community Center, 8101 Marty in Overland Park, streamed through the registration area as they prepared to cast their vote on Saturday morning, Feb. 9, 2008.  KEITH MYERS/The Kansas City Starcutline: A large crowd of Republican voters streamed Saturday morning through registration in preparation for caucusing at the Matt Ross Community Center in Overland Park.Here's how voter registration should work: You move, your registration moves with you. You turn 18, you're added to the voters' logs. You pay taxes, get a license, sign up for state or federal benefits, and registration is automatic.

But here's a dose of sad reality on the heels of another Independence Day: America, the world's shining beacon of democracy, does about as bad a job registering voters as any democracy on Earth.

A study released this week by the New York University's Brennan Center for Justice studied voter registration, rating 17 democracies. The nations surveyed had available information and "face the same fundamental challenges in maintaining accurate voter rolls."

America was dead last.

The United States registers 68 percent of the voting age population. All but three nations studied register 91 percent or better, including France and Burundi. That's right — despite being a new democracy, surviving a period of genocide, facing massive AIDS death tolls — this central African country was able to register 23 percent more of its voting population.



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