Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. With little more than a month remaining until the elections, time is running out for new voters or voters who moved since the last election to register to vote this November. Voters who need a registration form from their home state can sign up for one here.
In honor of National Voter Registration Day, here are five important facts about elections in the United States for voters to bear in mind:
- American Voter Registration Rates Are Unusually Low: Approximately 68 percent of voting age Americans are registered to vote. That compares to 100 percent of Argentinians, 97 percent of Brits, 93 percent of Canadians and 77 percent of South Africans. As the Brennan Center explains, America does a poor job of registering voters because we place the burden of registering largely at the feet of the voters themselves, while most of our peer nations actively encourage voter registration. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) recently signed another potential path towards closing this registration gap — election day registration for new voters.
- Republicans Want To Make This Problem Worse: Republican officials like Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler both attempted voter purges this year seeking to kick even more people off the voter rolls. Both claimed these purges were justified to ensure that no non-citizens were voting, but purges uncovered virtually “no confirmed noncitizens.” Scott also signed an unconstitutional law making it harder to register new voters. Although a federal court eventually struck down the law, that was not until Democratic voter registration “all but [dried] up” in Florida.
- In-Person Voter Fraud Is Virtually Non-Existent: Republicans have also pushed so-called Voter ID laws, which potentially disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of low-income, elderly, minority and student voters. They claim these laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud at the polls, but, “a person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit in-person voter fraud. One study of Wisconsin voters determined that just .00023 percent of votes are the product of in-person fraud.
- Republicans Want To Cut Early Voting Too: Republican officials, including lawmakers in crucial states like Ohio and Florida, have also tried to limit the number of days voters can cast an early ballot before the election day itself. Courts have given these laws a mixed reception.
- The Electoral College Makes No Sense: Finally, perhaps the most peculiar aspect of the American voting system is the Electoral College, which discourages candidates from campaigning in more than a handful of battleground states and sometimes allows the loser of the popular vote to become president. Several states embraced an effort to largely neutralize the Electoral College known as the National Popular Vote compact.