Voting Rights Are on the Ballot

election integrity
Photo credit: WhoWhatWhy

Amid political gridlock, and against the backdrop of gerrymandering and voter suppression, citizen-led efforts to boost voting rights through ballot initiatives are under way in a handful of states.

One such effort concerns “Question 2” — whether to allow voters to either register or update their registration on the same day as the election. Maryland is seeking to become the 17th state (plus Washington, DC) to allow it. The Washington Post has endorsed it, calling the measure a “critical reform” that would boost turnout. The Baltimore Sun urged its readers to reject the measure, claiming it would be a “headache” for election officials.

Same-day registration has been proven to boost turnout by about five percent.

Besides voting on an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana, Michigan will also have two crucial initiatives on the ballot:

Proposition 2 would create an independent committee for rezoning voting districts, which supporters claim would decrease politically motivated gerrymandering.

Proposition 3 seeks to enshrine several practices known to increase turnout into the state constitution, including straight-ticket voting, automatic voter registration, same-day voter registration, and no-excuse absentee voting.

Nevada’s Question 5 calls for automatic voter registration. If passed, Nevada would become the 14th state (plus Washington, DC) to automatically register voters. Automatic voter registration has long been championed by voting right activists, who cite positive examples in Vermont and Oregon.

Perhaps most consequentially, Florida’s Amendment 4 — the Voting Rights Restoration for Felons Initiative — seeks to restore the voting rights of an estimated 1.6 million Floridians who cannot vote because of a felony conviction.

Florida is only one of four states (along with Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia) where felons who have served their time must receive the permission of a state board to regain their right to vote. A whopping 10.4 percent of the voting age public cannot vote in Florida due to disenfranchisement laws.  

Florida’s Amendment 4 needs a majority of 60 percent to pass and new polling indicates it could be a nailbiter as support for the measure is right at that mark.

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