Kate Brown goes national on voting modernization

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

President Obama has made it clear that fixing our broken voting system is a key priority for him.

On election night, he said:

I want to thank every American who participated in this election. Whether you voted for the very first time -- or waited in line for a very long time -- by the way, we have to fix that...

And in his inaugural address, he said:

Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.

I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's the first mention of election reform in an inaugural address.

And it's become crystal clear that, left to their own devices, state-level officials - particularly Republican ones - will go out of their way to disenfranchise voters. It's time to begin creating some national standards.

To that end, our own Secretary of State Kate Brown is in Washington DC today to discuss modernizing the voter registration system nationwide. She'll be speaking at the National Press Club - alongside two other Secretaries of State (one R, one D) - in support of the Voter Empowerment Act introduced yesterday in Congress.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, which helped developed the legislation, the proposed policies would change voter registration to include reforms that:

  • Establishes voluntary, automated registration of all consenting citizens when they interact with a wide range of government agencies.
  • Makes registration portable, keeping voters on the rolls even when they move.
  • Provides fail-safe procedures to ensure that eligible voters whose information is not on the rolls or not up to date can correct the information online or at the polls.
  • Offers states federal funding to make necessary technological upgrades.

In addition, other changes in the law would:

  • Prevent voter disenfranchisement as a result of “voter caging,” a process that involves efforts to remove registered voters solely on the basis of undeliverable mail.
  • End deceptive practices designed to confuse voters on Election Day.
  • Restore the right to vote in federal elections to individuals with past criminal convictions.
  • Require voter verified paper ballots and post-election audits to ensure the accuracy of election results.

Good stuff. We're lucky in Oregon to have had pro-democracy Secretaries of State (if not all of our County Clerks, ahem). But it's great to see Secretary Brown helping the rest of the country see the light.

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