Washington Among the First to Expand Voting Rights This Year
One of the first expansions of voting rights by a state legislature this year is about to become law.
Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to soon sign a measure enhancing access to the polls for American Indians in Washington. The bill would allow tribal members to request voter registration be conducted on reservations, and the county would be required to place at least one voting drop box on a reservation if requested by the tribe. Voters could register using those buildings' address as well, or register using nontraditional addresses. Tribal identifications cards would be an acceptable form of ID for registering to vote, and non-traditional addresses would be acceptable as well.
The bill passed the House 95-3 and the Senate 45-3. "There is nothing more fundamental than democracy. All of us as Americans are meant to have an equal voice," said Democratic state Rep. Debra Lekanoff, a member of the Swinomish tribe, during the legislative debate last week, the Spokane Spokesman-Review reported.
Neal is federal government affairs manager at R Street Institute, a nonpartisan and pro-free-market public policy research organization.
The term "democratic norms" has become a misnomer over the last year. America's governing institutions are undermined by elected officials who dishonor their offices and each other. Standards of behavior and "normal" processes of governance seem to be relics of a simpler time. Our democracy has survived thus far, but the wounds are many.
Free speech and free press have been the White House's two consistent whipping posts. Comments such as "I think it is embarrassing for the country to allow protestors" and constant attacks on press credibility showcase President Trump's disdain for the pillars of democracy. Traditional interactions between the administration and the press are no longer taken for granted. Demeaning, toxic criticisms have become so common that they're being ignored. As the administration revokes critics' press passes and daily briefings are canceled, normalcy in this arena is sorely missed.
Having had remarkable success at signing people up to vote in Texas last year, an Austin group of activists is expanding its pilot program into a full-blown national effort to overcome the sometimes ignored first hurdle for people in the voting process — registration.
"There are millions of voters who are registered who don't get out to vote," said Christopher Jasinski, director of partnerships for Register2Vote. "But the unmeasured part of the pie is the actual number of unregistered voters."