Voting is the most basic form of civic participation, and it is the cornerstone of any vibrant democracy. State legislators should work to promote voting and voter turnout in order to allow their constituents' voices to be heard.
The state of Connecticut can do this easily, efficiently, and effectively with simple, common-sense reforms. Election Day registration, which would allow Connecticut citizens to register to vote on Election Day, is the most important of these reforms.
Election Day registration works. According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for justice, the five states with the highest voter turnout in the 2008 elections all allowed Election Day registration. In one survey, 64% of non-voters reported that allowing people to register and vote on Election Day would make them more likely to vote.
Election Day registration is particularly useful to many groups of people that currently have low voter turnout. College students, who may change addresses and need to re-register every year, benefit greatly from this reform. Minority groups with low voter registration levels would find it easier to vote with same-day registration, and by removing the need to register to vote weeks in advance, it would reduce the overall amount of time wage laborers and office workers need to spend in order to exercise their right to vote.
Opponents of Election Day registration claim that it undermines the voting process, but there is no factual evidence of voter fraud due to Election Day registration in any state, and in the age of the Internet, there is no reason that registrations cannot be quickly checked and verified on Election Day.
Election Day voter registration is a simple, clear way to promote participation in our democracy, and the Connecticut Legislature should move to allow it in time for the 2012 elections.