Leading from the Left

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Good News for Democracy

Yesterday, a the Committee on Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform of the State House gave a positive recommendation to a bill that would allow same day regisatration and voting. I strongly support this bill because it will open up voting opportunities to a much wider range of individuals.

The bill, sponsored by Wake County Democrat Deborah Ross, would make it easier for 'last minute voters' to register and vote in elections. As hard as it is for political junkies like me to believe, there are many people who don't focus on elections until the last couple of weeks. Under current NC law, individuals must register at least 25 days before an election in order to be eligible to vote. Young people and others who engage late in the process find that they are not allowed to vote.

Ross' bill (HB 91) has 57 co-sponsors, including Orange County Representatives Verla Insko and Bill Faison. Speaker Hackney is not listed as a co-sponsor but speakers seldom co-sponsor legislation. I understand that he supports this measure as well.

Under the language of bill, folks with valid ID will be allowed to register at any of the one-stop voting sites in their county and then vote the same day. One-stop voting sites operate up to three days before the election. This change would allow many of the folks who don't get excited about an election until a week or two before hand to partiicipate in the process.

Interestingly, states with same day registration all have higher voter participation than North Carolina. The three states with the highest voter turnout all have same day registration, though the specifics vary from state to state.

I'll be watching how this legislation proceeds. It could be the most important election reform in NC in many years.