03/29/07 — Get IDs right first: One-stop registration and voting is a recipe for trouble

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Get IDs right first: One-stop registration and voting is a recipe for trouble

There is a bill being bandied about the General Assembly this week proposing that North Carolina adopt a one-stop registration and voting program.

The idea is to open up the democratic process and to make it easier for voters to cast their ballots. No remembering deadlines, no waiting for your voter registration card. All you have to do is show up at the polls.

And while the idea of more people actually taking an interest in the electoral process is appealing, there are some questions North Carolinians and their representatives should ask before they jump on the get-everybody-voting bandwagon.

First, isn’t this the state that just found out about a bevy of driver’s licenses and state ID cards that were obtained with illegal identification numbers? Shouldn’t we add a few restrictions to one-stop voting to make sure those who are casting their votes should be doing so in the first place?

Second, isn’t voting really a responsibility? Is it too much to ask to require someone to expend a little effort to sign up in advance of Election Day — especially if they are supposed to be informed participants in the process? How many people will vote just to vote — or use their vote as a bargaining chip? Is that really a fair election process with results that will benefit a community?

The potential for abuse of a one-stop system is a real reason to think carefully before making the change. Voting is a right and a responsibility — and those who take it seriously should be able to expect a certain amount of integrity in the process.

Opening up the floodgates doesn’t serve anybody’s best interest — or make voters any more informed and responsible in their decision-making. We have a right to expect better.

Published in Editorials on March 29, 2007 11:30 AM