Making it easier to vote

Online registration is an improvement, but why stop there?

At a time when many states with Republican-dominated Legislatures are trying to make it as difficult as possible for some people—mostly the young, minorities and the poor, who trend Democratic—California is going in the other direction, making it easier to vote. That’s how it should be.

This year the good news is the adoption of online voter registration. According to the Los Angeles Times, more than 1 million Californians filed online applications to register by the Monday, Oct. 22, deadline for the Nov. 6 election. Many of those applications are still being processed, but as of Tuesday at least 679,000 people had registered to vote in the last 45 days, which may set a new record for registration, according to Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

But why stop there? Historically, registration was initiated as a way to keep non-white people—immigrants and blacks—from voting. Why do we make it harder for people to vote by requiring them to seek out and submit a registration form? Why not make it the state’s responsibility to use its existing databases to register everyone?

Universal voter registration is not a new idea. It exists in many countries around the world. To see how it works, go to and click on “Reforms.”