Making every vote count

A new proposal would make voter registration easier for Minnesotans.

Minnesota is already one of the most active states when it comes to elections. During the presidential election in 2004, Minnesota led the nation with an astounding 79 percent voter-turnout rate. This state has consistently been a high achiever, but new Secretary of State Mark Ritchie wants to aim a little higher.

In a proposition revealed last week, Ritchie wants to make the voter registration process easier. Minnesota is already one of only six states that allow voters to register on the same day as an election, but Ritchie’s program would register all individuals that have Minnesota driver licenses. This suggestion would dramatically increase the ease of being a registered voter. The measure would also significantly reduce the number of people participating in same-day registration and thereby speed up the lines at polling places.

While registering more Minnesotans won’t necessarily ensure they will vote, the right to vote should be as accessible as possible. And for those that never want to be registered, the driver’s license form will have an opt-out option.

Minnesota is setting a trend that other states should follow. Registering to vote must be done over 20 days prior to an election in over half of all states. This is an extra bureaucratic step that only serves to reduce voter interest and involvement. By linking registration to driver licenses, more citizens will be permitted to participate in the democratic process. It is hard to have a democracy with some left out in the cold.

Mark Ritchie is new in office, but his proposal seems well thought out. As secretary of state, his job is to ensure the integrity and implementation of elections, and his new ideas seem perfect for the goal of improving democracy. If Minnesota adopts his proposal, it will be a grand achievement for democracy in this state.