WTH? Registering voters is too expensive to do?


I stumbled across this short, older article while looking for data for another post, and I found it truly frightening.  I couldn’t let it go without comment even though it is now over 3 years old.  In large part because I am absolutely certain that the so-called “thought” behind the first couple ‘paragraphs’ is still there.

These days, everyone who gets a driver’s license is asked the question: “Do you want to register to vote?”

And most answer yes. That’s why 64,575 voters are registered in a county with less than 100,000 citizens.

Here’s the problem with that answer: it’s driving up the cost of elections.

“We have to print a ballot for every one who is registered to vote,” said Joe Campbell, supervisor of elections. “If you’re going to vote, we have to have a ballot for you.”

For the Aug. 26 state primary, for instance, Highlands County paid about $20,000 for ballots, said Norma Stokes, assistant supervisor.

Did you catch that?  Essentially what the first 103 of 468 words of this article says is this, the more people registered to vote, the more expensive it is.  The implication is that registering people to vote is an expensive waste of time.

What?  You don’t think that’s what they meant to imply?

And most answer yes. That’s why 64,575 voters are registered in a county with less than 100,000 citizens.

Here’s the problem with that answer: it’s driving up the cost of elections.

Just under 65% of the county’s citizens are registered, and the “problem” is that it is driving up the cost of elections.

This should frighten every one of us.  While we certainly have issues with fiscal responsibility as individuals and as a country, the answer to that is not to in ANY way limit legitimate access to participation in civic rights and responsibilities. We have serious issues in this country in that we do not have enough participation.

The article goes on to discuss the costs of staffing polling stations and why voters don’t turn out for elections.  The latter is a legitimate issue, but the heart of the matter there is ignored, and the former, is relevant, but can’t be addressed by making it more difficult for people to register.  We do need answers to reduce the costs of elections, and there are many good ideas for that.  Some of which are technological in nature, some social, some educational, and some political.  As with all complex problems, the solution isn’t simple.

We have evolved beyond solving every problem with a bigger hammer.

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About Just Torch

Author of the SCIAMAGE column a space devoted to American political and social commentary and analysis. It is unabashedly liberal, but makes every effort to present clear, verifiable facts and sound reasoning. It also makes a commitment to clearly distinguish between facts and opinions. View all posts by Just Torch

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