Universal Voter Registration
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Everyone should have the right to vote in free and fair elections regardless of who they are or where they live. To that end, FairVote advocates for enshrining an affirmative right to vote in the U.S. Constitution. In pursuit of that ideal, FairVote works to enact policies at the federal, state, and local levels that are consistent with our conviction that voting is not a privilege, but a right.



Right to Vote Hangs in the Balance
Supreme Court upholds strict voter ID requirement
The Supreme Court on April 28 by a 6-3 vote upheld Indiana’s voter identification requirement that could disenfranchise many of the tens of thousands of Indiana voters who lack proper identification – such as the poor, young and elderly who do not drive. Indiana has never had a single documented case of voter impersonation, which the law allegedly seeks to prevent.
 
The ruling throws the issue of voter ID to the political arena, where the facts are strongly on the side of voter ID opponents. FairVote's Rob Richie commented, "Our laws should never block access to the polls even as we ensure secure elections for all. Long-term, we need a constitutional right to vote to ground our elections and universal voter registration where the government and citizens share responsibility for maintaining full and accurate rolls.”

[ Crawford v. Marion County Election Board ]

[ New York Times Article ]
[ Brennan Center for Justice Statement ]
[ ACLU Statement ]
[ The Right to Vote Amendment ]


Parties Must Fix the Primaries
GOP takes first step in reforming process
As the Democratic Party approaches the final stretch of nominating contests, now is a good time to reflect on how we can improve the chaotic presidential primary process. The mad rush to the front of the calendar resulted in states losing convention delegates and the voices of voters being ignored. The Republican Party has recently taken the first step in setting a 2012 calendar that will ensure all states have an opportunity to participate in an organized way. The RNC's rules panel voted 28-12 in favor of the "Ohio Plan," a calendar that puts smaller states at the front of the process and rotates "pods" of larger states in four sections.

FairVote's "Fix the Primaries" campaign has improved the dialogue about how the parties can run fairer, more efficient contests in 2012. Right to Vote Director Adam Fogel and Executive Director Rob Richie have just released a new article in the Policy Perspective series, Delegating Democracy: How the Parties Can Make their Nominating Contests More Democratic, which examines six proposals that would promote democratic values in both parties' presidential nominating contests.

[ Policy Perspective: Delegating Democracy ]

[ Washington Times article on the GOP plan ]
[ www.fixtheprimaries.com ]
[ Presidential Election Reform Program ]


Don't Break My Heart
FairVote Encourages Broader Youth Participation
Maryland legislators received a different kind of valentine this February 14th. Students at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, with the encouragement of FairVote, sent valentines to State Delegates and Senators asking for their support of H.B. 310 and S.B. 92--two identical bills that would set a uniform voter registration age of 16-years-old.

Right to Vote Director Adam Fogel testified in favor of the bill, along with a number of high school students. If the bills pass and are signed by the governor, Maryland would be the second state in as many years to allow 16-year-olds to register to vote. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist signed a similar bill last year. Hawaii is the only other state that allows all 16-year-olds to register to vote.

Secretaries of State from across the country have embraced setting 16 as the uniform voter registration age, including Republican Terri Lynn Land from Michigan and Democrat Mark Ritchie from Minnesota. The Rhode Island General Assembly has also introduced a bill supporting this policy.

Allowing 16-year-olds to register would enable high schools to conduct more effective voter registration drives and encourage young people to register when receiving their driver's license or permit. FairVote assembled a coalition of nonpartisan, nonprofit organizations in support of this legislation and sent a letter to Maryland legislators urging their support. The coalition members include: Casa de Maryland, Common Cause Maryland, League of Women Voters of Maryland and Progressive Maryland.

[ Track S.B. 92 ]
[ Track H.B. 310 ]
[ FairVote's Testimony ]
[ Learn more about FairVote's 100% Registration Project ]
[ Learn more about Universal Voter Registration ]



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Recent Articles
October 19th 2009
Mandatory Voting? Automatic Registration? How Un-American!
Huffington Post

President of Air America Media, Mark Green, explains why Instant Runoff Voting, Automatic Registration and Mandatory Voting are not only important but could lead to a more democratic society.

September 30th 2009
Can a 17-year-old register to vote? It depends
Ventura County Star

"Most Californians register to vote not because a political cause has touched their heart, but rather because they checked a box on a form at the Department of Motor Vehicles when they received or renewed their driverís license."

September 27th 2009
Giving teens a civic voice
The Fayetteville Observer

In January, North Carolina will become the third state to implement FairVote-endorsed youth preregistration.

September 8th 2009
Give voters final say on vacancies
Politico

The two legislators proposing a constitutional amendment mandating elections to fill Senate vacancies make their case in the pages of Politico.