Voting Reforms: Automatic Registration, Mandatory Voting

It’s great to welcome to the program today,
Josh Douglas, who’s a law professor at the University of Kentucky. Yeah. And also author of the book vote for us how
to take back our elections and change the future of voting. Um, uh, great to talk to you first and foremost. Thanks David. Thanks for having me on. So we could start this conversation a few
different ways. I mean, I think for my audience, they’re mostly
familiar with the different ways that we’ve seen. Um, uh, mostly the Republican Party attempt
to make it more difficult to vote. This includes a reducing voting hours, reducing
polling locations, putting in place a so called voter id laws, gerrymandering. I mean we could go on and on and on, but I
think in the interest of sort of having, uh, as optimistic a conversation as possible,
you identify a bunch of different ways in the book that we can increase voter access
and turnout, which I think is a worthy goal. And I think most people in the audience agree
what some of the lowest hanging fruit to start with that might immediately give us some positive
results. Well, probably automatic voter registration
is in some ways the lowest hanging fruit because it’s already been passed in over a dozen states. And this is where the takes the responsibility
of registering everyone using the information that already has through DMV offices or what
have you. And essentially the voter registration list. And the DMV lists talk to each other. I say this is a little hanging fruit again
because we’ve seen success in both so called bread and so called blue states that have
adopted this reform. And when we talk about automatic registration,
there’s a couple of different ways I’ve seen it work. One is when there is some other kind of interaction
with a sort of government system, whether you are renewing your license or you are turning
18 or or sort of some other ways, what are the different ways that this could actually
happen? And is there some way that doesn’t involve
any kind of interaction? It’s simply when you move in some place and
change your address, you’re immediately registered to vote. Yeah. So the requirement that you be given, the
opportunity to register to vote already exists under federal law. This is the motor voter law that says anytime
you interact with the governmental entity and like the DMV office, they give you the
opportunity to register. What automatic voter registration does is
takes that step of opting in out of the equation. The state does it automatically. You don’t have to do anything. So anytime you do update your address, say
with the DMV office, even if you don’t also take the additional step of registering or
or filling out the form, the state will do it for you and then they’ll send you a postcard
saying, well, you’ve now been registered. If forever reason you want to opt out, now
you can. And what this does, the results show is it
registered so many more people, Oregon, the first state to do it registered over 100,000
new voters and many of these people turned out to vote. That probably otherwise wouldn’t have had
the opportunity to. Yeah. Yeah. That was going to be my next question, which
is the second order question is does someone who is automatically registered rather than
choosing to do it, are they actually more likely to go and vote? And it sounds like some of the data says that
yes, they are. Yeah. In fact, a recent study looked at turnout
rates between the different states in the 2018 midterm election and showed that states
with either auto automatic voter registration or are seen same day registration, you can
show up to the polls and vote at the same time had the highest turnout levels and the
stage with registration deadline of 30 days or three weeks before the election had the
lowest turnout levels. So these reforms really work and again, they’re
implemented in a positive fashion in a handful of states already. Now it is possible to play devil’s advocate
that states that have these sort of automatic registration methods are states that for other
reasons already have fostered sort of a more engaged voting public and that it’s not necessarily
because of the automatic registration, but I think we don’t need to necessarily get into
it at that level here. It seems pretty clear that states that have
a certain philosophy on voting do have voter turnout, maybe for a variety of reasons would
be fair to say. Well, I’m pushed back on the question of,
or the notion that states that already have engaged voters are doing this because you
looked at, you know, West Virginia, which is the third state to adopt automatic voter
registration or Georgia, a state that has had many voting woes and they have automatic
voter registration. So this is, you know, you asked about the
low hanging fruit. This is because it’s already working and a
lot of places. So you mentioned, or I mean, I guess we’re
talking about this in the context of we have 50 states and different states handle this
issue and voting in general very differently. Are there states right now that you’ve identified
that sort of in general would get like an a on voter access and voter and Franchisement? Yeah, it would be Colorado. Colorado has, I think the best of voting mechanism
when it comes to election day itself. Uh, it has, uh, essentially a combination
of universal vote by mail, also known as a vote at home and vote centers. So in universal vote by mail states, the state
automatically mails every one about about two or three weeks before election day. Uh, whether they’ve requested it or not. So it’s not like absentee balloting or you
have to ask for it. It does. It automatically, you may not even know. And election is about to take place. She can sit at home and fill it out and research
the issues and the candidates so that it leads to a more informed, engaged electorate and
then drop it off at a secure Dropbox or mail it in. And you don’t do that if you want to vote
on election day, if you need some sort of assistance, the state has vote centers, uh,
which means that instead of having to go to a home base to precinct their polling place
closest to your home address, you can go to any votes center in the county and they’re
all of a tragically connected. So once you check into one, you can’t check
into another and the ballot that gets printed as about fear of home address. And so this is the ultimate inconvenience
and voting. This combination of automatically receiving
a ballot. But then if you really want to go or your
polling place where a polling place, you can go to any votes center in your account d as
well. So on the other side, which states are the
worst as far as this goes? Well, any of the states that have 30 day registration
deadline, uh, uh, Texas, uh, with the continued rose, in addition to that, it’s strict voter
ID requirements that really don’t have any benefit in reducing fraud and yet a disenfranchise
a handful of, uh, a good number of people, certain constituencies, um, any of the states
that don’t have this kind of convenience factor in voting. And we see it in the voter turnout numbers. So, um, I, I’m originally from Argentina and
Argentina. We have what’s called mandatory voting, which
basically means unless you demonstrate that you’re living outside of the country like
I am, for example, or unless you have some health reason or other reason for not participating,
and you’ve sort of presented that to the state, you are expected to vote and can be fined
or otherwise punished. If you don’t, what’s your sense generally
from a philosophical standpoint about mandatory voting and then from a logistical standpoint,
is it actually something that would, um, be, be desirable? Uh, because choosing not to vote if you’re
doing so freely, although I’m not in favor of that as a strategy, it is something people
can do to show displeasure with the system. It is still a conscious decision people can
make. Yeah. Argentina has that. Australia has a mandatory voting with turnout
of over 90%. Um, and you know, this leads to, it seems
like a pretty engaged, informed electorate. Um, and so it philosophically, I think anything
we can do to encourage participation while coupled with improved civics education is
a good idea. Now, do I think this is likely or possible
in the United States? No. Uh, I think philosophically people are against
it. Although I would note that in any mandatory
voting system, you would have to have a, an option essentially for, I don’t like any of
the bumps. Um, and so the requirement is to show up,
not necessarily to choose one of the candidates, but I do think that if we adopted all of the
reforms that I mentioned in the book, thanks to these everyday Americans who are championing
them in their local communities, then we would get to something a lot closer to um, universal
turnout. And you know, I have it at the end of the
book. I say, why not aspire to something like 90%
turnout? That seems crazy don’t in our current environment,
and given the numbers of 60% turnout in presidential elections, you know, 2018 midterms had 50%
turnout and we were celebrating that high voter engagement. It was a record and I thought, you know, it,
half the electorate isn’t showing up. Why are we celebrating? But I think thrive to something like 90% and
we make it part of the way, then we’ll be doing a lot better. So I guess the next sort of layer of discussion
that seems relevant is you outline a lot of these reforms and you talk about, as you call
them, democracy champions at local levels are actually activating to try to get some
of some of these reforms enacted. But there is to some degree, this kind of
vicious circle where the voting system we have is determined in great part by the people
that are representing us, that our elected officials, those are people who have benefited
from the system we have in so far as they’ve gotten elected under it. And so in great part they may not actually
be motivated to make the changes that you’re describing. So what are the actual activist actions? What, which pieces of this dude just activists
have control and power over and which parts actually require first voting some different
people into office? Well, it really depends on the state law and
the ability of voters to have doubt propositions, whether his forum, local elections or statewide
elections. You know, you look at a place like Michigan
that had horrible partisan gerrymandering and the way it draws its lines and the state
just passed a state constitutional amendment to implement an independent redistricting
commission to draw the lines. And the next time we do this starting in 2021
so Michigan voters had the opportunity and ability to pass about proposition requiring
that in other states. That’s not possible. And then again, we talk about local laws. Some states give their localities what’s known
as home rule or essentially authority to have a vocal specific laws for their local elections. And you see a lot of movement in places like
Maryland and California. Uh, in Tennessee we’ve seen some successes,
uh, for local reforms. Uh, so it really is, is location specific. But here’s what I’d say is that let’s make
the effort and implant the actions and the places where it is legally possible because
that creates an evidence that creates a body of evidence to show it to the other states. Hey, this actually works to improve turnout,
to get it to, again, a much more engaged, informed electorate. And it’s not a partisan power grab, it’s simply
a democracy paragraph. Can this discussion be separated from the
discussion about how politics is financed in the United States or, or are these really
related issues that have to be dealt with in tandem? Well, I think the financing of politics is
its own separate issue to reform it, but of course also informs the, you know, the ability
to make a lot of these other changes. But I have a separate chapter on campaign
finance reform and specifically public financing and what some places like Maine and Seattle
are doing to improve the access of ability for people to run for office. Um, so I think it’s both a separate issue
as well as something that works in tandem with all these other reforms. And kind of in parallel with that, I’m curious
whether you see the way in which, at least at the presidential level we have this, um,
uh, electoral college system. I mean, is that something that you think plays
into the reforms you’re talking about or, or is that more of a separate issue? Well, I think the electorial college plays
into the voter apathy concern that involves so many of our elections. And you know, one reason that people don’t
vote as they feel like it’s not going to make a difference and why bother. And then, you know, if you’re a Republican
in California or a Democrat in Texas, you think that, you know, the result is that essentially
a preordained and the electoral college. Um, but that said, there’s also a foreign
possible for the electoral college itself that I talked about briefly towards the end
of the book. And this is the national popular vote interstate
compact. Or essentially states are agreeing that instead
of awarding their electoral college votes to whoever wins their state, they’ll award
it to the national popular vote winner. And that’s really gaining steam as well. Yup. That we’ve actually talked about that quite
a bit. And of course, until there are enough states
who sum total of, of, um, electors totals to 70, it doesn’t get triggered but a number
of states, and I don’t remember it, but it, for some reason I think it’s 12 or 13. Is that right? I think so far, maybe 12 plus DC now. That’s a very interesting initiative, which
we will, uh, we’ll keep talking about. Oh, we’ve been speaking with Josh Douglas,
who’s a law professor at the University of, yeah, about his book. Vote for us, how to take back our elections
and change the future of voting. Uh, just really a pleasure having you on today. Thank you so much. This has been fun.

Maurice Vega

80 Responses

  1. I'm a Trump supporter. I believe that the only way to ease political tensions and divide is to have a political dialogue with someone who has an opposing view point. I hope an anti Trump protester gets this message.

  2. Voters need to be tested and scored.
    That way, the viewers of Fox would not have the influence they currently have.
    Why let a bunch of simpletons choose the leaders.

  3. Bring me real candidates and then I’ll vote until then I’m not voting on any of these retards in any form sorry and also forcing people to do something is a dictatorship

  4. Republicans are trying with all their might white to deny minorities their constitutional right to vote. Everything that you're talking about is in the process of being made illegal by the GOP.

  5. Conservatives & Anti Bernie Libs
    IF wE lEt fEloNs vOTe tHeY WiLl vOTe For RaPe aNd muRdER tO bE LeGaL

  6. The DNC did most of those specific gerrymandering techniques in the 2016 primaries against Bernie..

  7. You should be worry about not having a real democracy yet USA always gives the excuse of democracy for the constant regime change worldwide. It's like worrying about Venezuela while Puerto Rico only got toilet paper.

  8. Automatic registration can be a good idea however compulsory voting is not. It is essentially a compelled speech act, which violates freedom of speech because the freedom to speak necessarily includes the freedom not to speak.

  9. NPVIC is on 14 states + DC now after new mexico and Delaware also joined. Looking good for Nevada , Oregon and Minnesota that already passed a bill to join the NPVIC in one state house.

  10. One problem: who decides who is in charge of the automatic registration? Vacuums have a tendency to suck up slime. Public control is still indirect. Face it, folks. The system is just too big.

  11. anyone who equates liberalism with fascism, and conservatism with communism is too lazy to use a dictionary or too stupid to understand what they read and should be banned from voting

  12. I'm surprised you didn't draw more attention to the vote by mail system. I don't like being overly alarmist about potential voter fraud, but that system sounds absolutely fraught with opportunities to exploit, both in falsifying votes and preventing people from voting.

  13. I dont like the idea of mandatory voting. How would you enforce that? People shouldn’t be fined or arrested because they couldn’t/didn’t vote that day.

  14. If there is no Mandatory Voting, then Voter Apathy decides the government.
    If you don’t vote, then don’t complain about the government.

  15. If the US cannot follow up on student, visitor and work visas when they expire; how on earth could they pursue voters that ignored the mandatory vote?

  16. Some people say mandatory voting is like giving someone the death penalty for attempting suicide. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I can understand the point. I wish so much that people everywhere would be more interested in being informed and participate responsibly (because non-participation isn't really an option or even a choice in my opinion; you are participating whether you admit it or not, unless you're dead), but there is no easy solution.

  17. David, you did not mention that in Argentina (and in a lot of other countries) elections take place on Sundays, not on a working day. Also that in Argentina there are no sport events while polls are open on election day.

  18. Australian here, the concept of voting not being mandatory is crazy to me. In Australia the validity of your ballot is distinct from your required attendance (and it has to be, because ballots are anonymous once cast). You walk in, get your name marked off the roll, and are handed a ballot to do with what you will. I'd of course encourage everyone to make use of their vote, but some people cast an "informal" vote where the ballot is filled out improperly and effectively doesn't count.

  19. Making Election Day a National Holiday is pretty important too, I think. Surprised they didn't mention it.

  20. I don't get why voter turnout is still so low in states that mail ballots to residents. Can you address this at some point, David? Are people really that self-absorbed that they don't care about the country's future and taking 10-15 minutes to fill out the ballot and mail it back is too much work?

  21. 16 year olds can vote; people serving time in prison for violent crimes can vote; no voter ID law; ban the electoral college; automatic voter registration(for the democratic party I can only assume…)
    …and I forgetting anything LOSERS?

  22. I'm all for mandatory voting. If signing up with the Draft Board can be made mandatory, voting can too. Everyone could be required to either show up and cast a vote or send in an absentee vote. No different than requiring you to buckle your seat belt.

  23. No more excuses for disenfranchisement. No more running out of ballots. Triple carbon copy voting slips, one for you, one for the Federal Government and one for the County Elections board. It’s common sense that we should never vote 🗳 on a computer again, nor should we transmit our votes by computer. We KNOW WITH 100% certainty that we have a compromised computer system and we should never use it again. We don’t need to know who won on ELECTION NIGHT! IT’S WORTH EVERY MINUTE IT TAKES TO COUNT THE VOTES BY HAND, AND HAVE COPIES TO BACK THEM UP WITH NUMBERS THAT ARE UNIQUE TO EACH VOTER. Using computers is absolutely unacceptable now. Spend the money 💰 on paper ballots with automatic evidence of your vote that is not negotiable, and you can be sure your vote will never fail into a black hole and miss being counted. There’s a good reason why new Presidents aren’t sworn in until January 20! We have plenty of time to properly count the votes 🗳!

  24. Here's how most Americans would vote: Have an Election-lottery. The moment you vote you receive a ticket to win 5 million dollars. Do that in every state and the number of people that vote will increase immensely. 5 million dollars is nothing for a state.

  25. As an Australian we have mandatory voting, you register to vote when you turn 18, and you only need in the future to alter any addresses or whatever. You only leave the voter roll when you die. We have postal votes but our voting day is always on a Saturday and if you are in a different area you can absentee vote. It has worked well for decades and everyone decides the Government. Troops overseas get special voting forms, and citizens overseas can vote in any Embassy or postal vote. 100% turnout doesn't always mean a great government, but it is the will of the people. We also vote for our local members (house reps and senators) the winning party leader is the Prime Minister. We do not vote for a Prime Minister. And always use paper ballots, no stupid machines.

  26. One of the easiest ways to increase voter turnout is to make Election Day a national holiday on a Monday, and have a consecutive two-day (Sunday and Election Day) election. Duh!

  27. How about mail in ballots in all 50 states? We have that here in my state and it is awesome! Ballots are mailed to your house, you can take you time filling them out, and then stick them in mail or drop them off at designated ballot drop boxes when you are done. I've never had to set foot in a voting booth. 👍

  28. I like the idea of automatic registration. Mandatory voting seems like another excuse to break out the D&D dice, though.

  29. Remember when the Orange Russian told white supremacists to get their guns on go and police the voting booths.

  30. I have mixed feelings on this idea. On one hand it sounds good since everyone will be registered to vote. On the other hand, it seems like it would make voter fraud exponentially easier. Even if you had a really high turnout, you would probably still have a good 40% or more people that are now registered to vote yet didn't. Someone with access to voting information could easily figure out who those 40% are and create a lot of absentee ballots for many of them. Even if you didn't have immediate access to this kind of data, you could look at prior years and figure out who has never voted and most likely won't in the future. And even if you have no access at all to this data, all you would have to do is pay some people to canvas neighborhoods and asking if people planned to vote that year. Heck, even if they didn't claim to be doing a poll and simply just asked people, there are plenty of idiots out there that would still answer. I would like to think that these are far fetched ideas, but we have seen republicans doing worse.

  31. You mean run around the constitution to uproot the democracy. You losers cant win, so you cheat. You've allowed in 30 million illegals and want them to vote because you have FAILED to convince actual Americans.

  32. Mandatory voting so the politically disinterested and completely ignorant can be guided by the acknowledgled failed school system and the wholly one sided media into voting left because their ideas are so stupid and failed that convincing people is impossible.

  33. Instead of punishing people for not voting, which would and should never pass in America, rewarding people for voting could work. It wouldn't even have to be much say $10 per election.

  34. I am not in favour of mandatory voting but how about a small tax credit for voting?

  35. They need to advocate for ranked base voting too, to stop all the complain about compulsory voting for people they think will win, instead of people who's policy they actually wanted. (or their vote won't matter… the ridiculous common compliant.)

  36. Captions: 5:56 "And so this is the ultimate inconvenience and voting" should be "And so this is the ultimate in convenience in voting"
    Such a subtle difference makes a massive modification to the meaning lol

  37. We need a multiparty system in this country. The GOP and Democratic parties need to be dissolved.

  38. Man I've been asking about a more mandatory voting for a few months. I don't see any reason why not to vote. How does it hurt anyone?

  39. I wouldn't put any fine or punishment, if you don't vote,, unless a small fine. I think anyone with a driver's license should be told,, vote or no license?? Maybe? Voting hurts no one,, not voting gets us a Trump. There,, an incentive 👍.

  40. One correction to this video. Strictly speaking, Australia does not have mandatory VOTING. What IS mandatory is to get your name marked off on the electoral roll as having voted. For most purposes that translates as mandatory ATTENDANCE at a voting place. There is no law compelling you to turn in a valid vote; and that applies whether you vote in advance through (say) postal voting or on polling day itself.

    Australia uses paper ballots rather than voting machines. It also has the secret ballot. What those mean, for those people who turn up on polling day, is that once you get your name marked off on the electoral roll and get handed your ballot papers, you don't have to actually turn in a valid vote. You can just as easily turn in a completely blank ballot paper. Or even a mixture of both (say, blank for the House of Representatives and a validly filled in ballot paper for the Senate).

  41. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) said 11 million votes were counted on polling day, with the rate of informal voting on the House of Representatives ballot paper about 5 per cent, down from 5.9 per cent in 2013.

    This shows that majority of people vote properly when they go to ballots. If you have to go to get your name ticked off, the incentives are there to vote properly. I don't know about the American system, but for australians we get given sheets by our parties on how to vote making it even more simple and easier

  42. In Australia we also have it on the weekend and whoever you are employed by MUST allow you to leave work if you are working on the weekend to vote. Also we have early postal voting and postal voting for Australians overseas. And the government isn't allowed to redraw electoral districts.

  43. America is such a weird country. How can republicans systematically have so much power to control the legal system especially for things that are constitutionally the right of citizens?

  44. As an outsider, running voter registration through the DMV sounds so ridiculous. What does having a motor vehicle have to do with voting? Why wouldn't you have a civil registrations system to keep track your citizens and who can vote? You know, like sensible countries 🙂

  45. Why is there so much focus on the general and not much on the primary? Someone would need to be blind as a bat to not know the voting problems in the last Dem primary.

  46. How about adding a tax on the no vote? If you don't vote, be taxed $100.00. We tax alcohol and tobacco as a SIN tax. I would consider a not voting a sin.

  47. In Canada when you do your taxes you can check off the to be added to the voting registration but you can also register on the day of the polls.

  48. The gov't does enough tracking of citizens already! If your ass is too lazy to register to vote, clearly, you don't want to vote. There are more than enough groups out there that will help get a person get registered if they want to vote. I am a registered voter & I do NOT support automatically registering people, esp. young people, to vote against their will. The thing nobody ever mentions is which party the state will assign people to when they are being automatically registered? In many states, you have to pick a party affiliation in order to register to vote. If you aren't registered as a Dem or a Rep, you can't vote in the primary elections that determine who the ultimate candidate will be. Do folks really want the gov't deciding which party you should automatically assigned to when you re automatically registered to vote?

  49. Actually strange that a country like America, that likes to punish anyone for anything, hasn't legislated to punish people for not voting.

  50. Might look funny to Americans: as a German I have to be registered where I‘m living and for each vote I get a letter that tells me I may vote and where. I take that where I‘m supposed to vote and that‘s it. If I ignore the letter, nothing happens.

  51. Simple solutions are at hand. Automatic registration, a national day off for voting, no removal from voting rolls for any reason at any time… unless they are convicted of a crime that prevents them from voting. There's only one party using exclusion as a means to an end. The Cadet Bone-Spurs Republitards are a minority using underhanded means to achieve the end of keeping their minority in a position of power disproportionate to their actual numbers. Time to change our voting rules and drive the Republitards into extinction. If any of the deep red maggots actually get reelected… they can for a new party going forward. The Cousinbrotheruncledaddy Family-Stick Inbred Party has a certain ring to it. Peace,

  52. Of course a place like Colorado will have a good voting system. Because they don't have to many minorities living there. You will see a 360 degree change with Colorado if they did have a large minority population. You will start seeing corruption at it's highest trying to keep those minorities from voting just like all red States do…

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