By STATE REP. BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE (D-25)
In Indiana, you can’t vote unless you have a photo identification card issued by the government. In Ohio, the opportunity to vote early has been severely curtailed. In North Carolina, the Justice Department has asked a federal judge to block similar laws from taking effect this November.
In Illinois? Things are better here, a lot better. Last summer I was with Gov. Pat Quinn when he signed my bill to let people register to vote over the Internet. This summer I was with him when he signed the bill to extend early voting hours, expand early voting locations and permit people to register and vote on Election Day, Nov. 4.
Compared to other western democracies, voter participation rates in our country are dismal. While others encourage citizens to exercise the right to vote by, for example, automatically re-registering people who move from one place to another, our rules often erect barriers instead. It’s time for us to catch up with other approaches and new technologies. We know that registration rates improve significantly when states approve the Internet as a voter registration site. And they aren’t just up among the young and educated. They’re up across the board, among members of minority groups and people with limited incomes, too.
Public policies should make it easier to vote, not harder. I’m proud to live in a state that thinks it’s a good thing to knock down the roadblocks so that every eligible citizen can access the voting booth without having to jump through unnecessary bureaucratic hoops.