Low turnout is bad for our country. The success of our government depends on citizen participation.
But, sadly, sometimes government itself stands in the way of that participation.
In a report issued last week, national policy and watchdog groups Common Cause and Demos documented impediments to voting in 10 critical “swing” states in this fall’s election. The eye-opening findings included an Arizona law that requires prospective voters to prove their citizenship when they register and a Kentucky statute that forces ex-offenders to obtain a gubernatorial pardon to regain their voting rights.
New York wasn’t included in the study, but the problems with some city voting machines in Tuesday’s primary elections should remind us of how easily the machinery of democracy can keep those who want to vote from doing so.
The city’s voting troubles were temporary, one hopes, but we should demand that local officials everywhere take a hard look at voting laws and customs — as well as machines — and make voting as simple and accessible as possible.
Bob Edgar is president of Common Cause, a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen’s lobbying organization promoting open, honest and accountable government.