An activist who seeks election reform in states across the nation says Iowa should join the ranks of states which allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day. Steven Carbos of the New York-based Democracy Project says the most obvious advantage to “Election Day registration” is higher voter turn-out.He says the six states which allow folks to walk into their polling place and register to vote on Election Day had voter turn-out in the 2004 presidential election that was 14 percent higher than the rest of the country. “I think it’s proof that if you make voting…easier and more accessible, you get more people actually participating,” Carbos says. Critics of allowing walk-in voting on Election Day say the practice is open to fraud and campaigns could bus in voters to tilt election results. Carbos says that isn’t happening in the states which allow residents to register to vote on Election Day.”A lot of folks throw around allegations of fraud without much proof,” Carbos says. “If you talk to officials in the six states that have Election Day-registration, they will tell you that are comfortable and confident that they are running elections that are more accessible and have integrity, free of fraud.” Wisconsin is among the states which have Election Day registration, and Carbos says the Wisconsin experience illustrates one advantage it offers to candidates seeking office. With laws that require voters to register before Election Day, campaigns must focus first on getting voters to register to vote, then shift to getting those voters to the polls. Carbos says with Election Day registration, Wisconsin candidates can focus their get-out-the-vote efforts solely on getting voters to the polls on Election Day. Carbos says in Milwaukee, a city council candidate mobilized Hispanic voters on Election Day and got himself elected as the first Hispanic city councilman in Milwaukee’s history. Carbos says the voting process is “twice as hard” when a candidate has to register voters first, then retool his or her campaign in the closing days to turn-out voters. Carbos was at Drake University this past week to participate in “Constitution Day” activities. Today is Constitution Day. On September 17, 1787, the 55 delegates at the Constitutional Convention signed off on the document.
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