Friday, January 6, 2012

Proposed laws hope to boost voting, democracy

There’s nothing more fundamental to democracy than voting.

One citizen. One vote.

That was a radical concept, an idea that has now spread around the world.

Yet many people don’t vote. They haven’t even registered to do it.

As this story in The Stranger shows, three proposed laws – introduced by three Democrats and two Republicans -- would make it easier for Washington voters to get into the habit.

Motor Voter, Turbo-ChargedHouse Bill 2203 would expand today’s motor-voter system. Instead of being offered the chance to register to vote when you get your driver’s license, or renew it (opt-in), the system would automatically register you to vote unless you say otherwise (opt-out).

Vote to the DeadlineHouse Bill 2204 would let citizens register to vote up to 5 p.m. on election day, or eight days in advance of a special election. Right now, state law cuts people off from registering to vote 29 days before elections if you do it online and eight days before the election when you do it live, in person, at your friendly county auditor’s office.

Pre-register 16-year-olds House Bill 2205 is getting the most attention, because it would allow people 16 years and older to sign up to vote (when they turn 18) as they apply for their first driver’s license. Young people have the lowest voting turnout rates. This bill could get a lot more young adults into the habit of voting, especially now that the entire state is vote by mail. You don’t have to drive to a polling station anymore.

To read this story in Spanish, click here.