Perhaps the most impressive recent success story in expanding political
participation has been the dramatic turnaround in public agency voter
registrations in some states. With the prodding of Demos, Project Vote, and others under the umbrella of the NVRA Project,
several states have reinvigorated compliance with this federal law that
requires that certain state agencies offer voter registration to the
individuals they serve. The most well known agencies are motor vehicle
departments, but public assistance agencies are also included and it is
they that can have the greatest impact on bringing low-income and
marginalized citizens into the political process.
In the final week of their legislative sessions, the Colorado and Indiana legislatures gave final approval to bills allowing residents to register to vote online. Colorado Senators passed HB 1160 and Indiana House Members passed HB 1346;
both bills allow residents with driver's licenses or state-issued ID
cards to register to vote online. The legislation has been sent to the
governor in both states. In Colorado the governor is expected to sign
the bill, while Indiana's governor has not indicated support or
Early Voting Shows Big Gain Nationally, Hits Majority in Ten States
The final numbers for early voting have been posted by the United States Elections Project
at George Mason University and they are big: 30% of votes nationwide
were cast early and a majority of voters cast their votes either by
mail or in person before Election Day in ten states. The total
increase is 50% over the number cast in the 2004 presidential election.
And even more striking, Coloradans cast 79% of their
votes early, the vast majority through mail-in ballots. These numbers
make clear that the electoral landscape is changing in many states, and
the endorsement by so many voters will likely fuel further adoption of
early voting this session and beyond.
As states face mounting deficits, corporate lobbyists have been promoting the idea that privatization of public services and assets is a free lunch -- services can be delivered more cheaply than by public employees and public assets like highways can be sold or leased for a hefty return to the taxpayer. As PSN has detailed in our December 2007 report Privatizing in the Dark: The Pitfalls of Privatization & Why Budget Disclosure is Needed, the promises of privatization too often yield to a reality of lost money and degraded services, weak oversight and lost expertise, assets sold off for short-term gains but long-term loss, lost democratic accountability, and the corruption of the political process.