Easing the burden of voter registration

2012. szeptember 24. 09:05

Victoria Bassetti
Washington Post

Here in the United States, our voter registration rate is somewhere between 66 and 75 percent. But no one is going on a hunger strike over that.

"Today, Hungarians do not have to register to vote, and the proposal to impose registration by their current far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has drawn sharp opposition. It is seen as a form of voter suppression that is part of a larger anti-democratic platform, which includes the law Orbán backed in 2010 that creates a government media oversight council; critics said it amounted to censorship.

No one in the United States would say that voter registration is anti-democratic. Yet many political and social scientists believe that our country’s practice of putting the registration burden on individuals, coupled with outmoded, paper-intense registration systems, are major causes of the United States’ perennially low voter turnout. One study estimated that voter registration barriers in the United States depress turnout by 5 to 10 percent.

For the last 60 years, presidential election turnout has rarely hit 60 percent of the voting eligible population. In local elections — for mayor or even governor — turnout routinely falls well below 40 percent. These turnout percentages put the United States almost at the end of the line worldwide for election participation. (...)

Here in the United States, our voter registration rate is somewhere between 66 and 75 percent. But no one is going on a hunger strike over that. Instead, we’re passing laws making it harder to launch registration drives and purging our voter rolls. After Gyurcsány recovers from his week-long starvation diet, maybe he’ll come visit America. Or for the sake of his health, maybe he shouldn’t."

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