Are you registered to vote in the next election? If not, you've probably got some hoop-jumping in front of you. If you live in a "red" state, you might need to get your papers in order, comrade, because it's not as easy to sign up as it used to be.
Like the swine flu vaccine, new voter ID laws in Republican leaning states are a cure without a disease. The premise for these blatant voter suppression tactics is the non-existent threat of voter fraud, a problem so rare it barely registers a blip on statistical reports. And yet, GOP legislatures all over America have figured out a way to keep millions of likely Democratic voters away from the voting booth by putting up the straw man argument that our precious elections are being stolen from us on a regular basis. Undocumented immigrants and felons are swarming to the polls on election day to subvert American democracy! Be afraid, be very afraid!
While courts have routinely overruled many of these suppression tactics, a lot of them have been ratified into law in crucial swing states. In fact, so many barriers have been placed in front of the poor, elderly, and students that the outcome of the next election cycle could be radically affected. Mission accomplished, if you're a Republican and realize your Party's policies can't win on their own merits.
But while legislatures in many states have been hard at work making it difficult to register to vote, the state of Oregon has done something remarkable. If you've applied for and received an Oregon drivers license, you're registered to vote. No need to fill out a voter registration form. No need to show identification. No rent or utility bills to present for public scrutiny. You don't have to dig up your birth certificate or pay to have a special photo ID made. Got a drivers license? You can vote.
How bold (and sane!) is that?
Oregon's governor challenged the other forty-nine states to follow her state's lead, and already some in California's legislature are giving indications that they intend to present bills making that state the second to automatically register citizens known to qualify to vote.
What a concept.
And what a contrast. Look at the barriers Republicans are needlessly putting up between the American people and their constitutionally protected right to free and fair elections. Then look at what Democratic legislatures are doing to simplify and encourage the voting process. The stark difference in democratic ideals couldn't be more evident.
This is something all Americans should demand on a national level. Our Congress should pass a law opening up the voter registration process to all taxpayers based upon their IRS information. Old enough? Valid citizenship? Have a mailing address? You can vote, regardless of what state you're visiting when election day rolls around.
What could be simpler, or more democratic than that?