Thursday, April 19, 2007

Voting reforms

According to the latest Civitas poll (PDF) North Carolina voters disagree by a wide margin with a number of voting reforms designed to make it easier for people to register and vote. Apparently the potential for voter fraud outweighs the benefits of increased participation.
Do you agree or disagree that voter registration forms should be provided in foreign languages in an effort to increase voting among immigrants?

Agree 27%
Disagree 66%

Do you agree or disagree that a person registering to vote for the first time should be required to prove they are a US citizen?

Agree 96%
Disagree 2%

Do you agree or disagree that a person who wishes to vote should be required to show photo ID before being allowed to cast a ballot?

Agree 86%
Disagree 10%

The State House has passed legislation allowing a person to register and vote by simply showing some form of residency such as a utility bill. Do you support this same day registration and voting legislation without photo identification and proof of citizenship?

Agree 9%
Disagree 87%
These results look pretty damning for voting reforms, but I have some issues with the way these questions were handled. Each question was asked with only the negative side of the issue expressed with the implicit and sometimes explicit suggestion that illegal immigrants or others were trying to corrupt the voting.

While voting fraud could be a by-product of reform, the intent of the reforms is to open up the democratic process to more people. Allowing same-day registration or not requiring photo ID will increase voter turnout. These are complicated issues that require better explanation, before you ask for an opinion.

Here is a clumsy yet more accurate way to handle the same-day registration question:
The State House has passed legislation allowing a person to register and vote during the early voting period by showing some form of residency such as a driver’s license or utility bill. Supporters argue that this bill will increase turnout, while opponents argue it will increase the chances of voter fraud. Do you support or oppose same-day voter registration during early voting?
Additionally, this poll is only of likely voters, not the public at large. That is an entirely reasonable decision by Civitas; most of PPP’s polls are only of likely voters too. But in this particular case that misses the opinions of the exact people the voting reforms are intending to benefit—those who are not already participating in voting. Elected officials should remember that when they examine these results.


Will Cubbison said...

Thought you guys might be interested in this poll from VA.

Justin Guillory said...

The link doesn't show up completely. Can you summarize?

Will Cubbison said...

Its talked about over at raisingkaine.

Its a small poll from within VA, but still interesting.

52% think that "gun laws in Virginia should be more restrictive than they are now" Only 8% think they should be "less restrictive," while 38% say they are "about right."

*44% believe that if guns were allowed on campus, it would not have made a difference in the Virginia Tech shootings. Another 31% say that MORE people would have died. Just 17% say that fewer people would have died if Virginia Tech had had a policy permitting guns on campus.

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