published Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Georgia voter registration rules called too difficult


by Andy Johns
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    Staff File Photo by Dan Henry/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Dan Brown votes at Rossville Civic Center.

Some political science professors in Georgia say the state has a “Neanderthal” approach to voter registration and streamlining the process could increase voter participation.

“Nobody makes it more difficult to register to vote than we do,” said Ken Ellinger, a professor of political science at Dalton State College. “We say we want (voters) to participate, but I’m not sure we really do because, if we did, we’d make it easier.”

Georgia’s laws require new voters to register 30 days before elections, but Ellinger and others point to other states that allow voters to register to vote on the day of the election.

Thirty days is the maximum window allowed by the U.S. Constitution, Ellinger explained, meaning there are no states with a longer gap between registration and election day.

“There are other factors, but registration definitely has an effect (on turnout) because it makes you think of the elections before most people are starting to think about it,” said Carl Cavalli, a political science professor at North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega.

The professors list Oregon, Wisconsin and Minnesota as leaders in a push to make voter registration easier. Minnesota allows election day registration and other states allow voters to cast ballots at any state precinct rather than assigning one precinct to each person.

Ellinger called Georgia’s system “horse and buggy, thinking of the worst kind.”

“In today’s technology, there’s simply no reason for it,” he explained.

But Tom Hunter, a professor of political science at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, said he’s not holding his breath waiting for change.

“I think same-day voting registration could work, but I don’t foresee any changes in Georgia or any other states,” he said.

Ellinger and Cavalli said an influx of new voters could add a level of unpredictability that neither Republicans nor Democrats want.

“Despite what anybody says, both parties want to preserve themselves while they’re in power,” Cavalli said.

Matt Carrothers, a spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, said the percentage of voting-age residents who cast ballots in 2008 is only 0.2 percent below the national average. Citing statistics from a national study by George Mason University, he said 61.5 percent of Georgians over 18 cast a ballot.

Carrothers said Georgia has the “greatest level of ballot access in the nation,” mentioning Georgia’s early voting period and absentee ballots. He said the 30-day window “provides the necessary time for Georgia’s county registrars to process voter registration applications.”

He said the time period is also needed to verify that applicants meet all the eligibility requirements.

Georgians may vote by mail via an absentee ballot, they may cast their ballot in-person during the 45-day early voting period at one of their county’s early voting centers or they may go to their polling place on election day, he said.

Dalton Mayor David Pennington, who coordinated a voter participation drive in Whitfield County earlier this year, said changing registration rules wouldn’t solve the problem.

“Our problem is not that we don’t have enough registered voters; it’s that registered voters don’t vote,” said the mayor, who described voter participation rates as “horrendous” in Northwest Georgia.

About 17 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in Northwest Georgia in the July 20 primary, he said.

“Northwest Georgia has always been shorted and it’s because we don’t vote enough,” Pennington added.

Click here to vote in our daily poll: Should voters have to be registered for 30 days before being allowed to vote?

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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PhotogTom said...

Do these so-called "professors" really think that people are too stupid to fill out a simple voter registration form? I don't think so. It isn't rocket science - Georgia's voter registration system is a simple process designed to ensure that every eligible voter gets to vote, but gets to vote only once.

There's only one reason to want same-day voter registration and voting, and that reason is to stuff the ballot box with fraudulent votes.

August 7, 2010 at 12:50 p.m.
Wilder said...

"There's only one reason to want same-day voter registration and voting, and that reason is to stuff the ballot box with fraudulent votes."

SPEAKING OF FRAUDULENT VOTES, TAKE A LOOK AT THIS "HOW TO" HISPANIC WEBSITE. WHO DO YOU THINK THIS IS DIRECTED TOWARDS?

http://www.latino2010.org/ga-latino-vote-english/

YOU ONLY NEED TO DEVOTE A MINIMAL AMOUNT OF TIME TO BECOMING INFORMED ON THE GIANT LOOPHOLES IN OUR STATE'S VOTING LAWS, BECAUSE THE HISPANIC ADVOCATES HAVE DONE ALL OF THE WORK FOR YOU.

HERE IS JUST ONE ON TOPIC EXAMPLE - NOTE THE MESSAGE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE, AFTER THE ASTERISK:

*PLEASE NOTE: You are not required to provide identification when you vote absentee by mail.

YOU COULDN'T HAVE CRAFTED A MORE LAME LAW ON ACCEPTABLE ID'S. YOU CAN DRIVE A TRAIN THROUGH IT(AND THE PROFESSIONAL ADVOCATES ARE STILL COMPLAINING, IT IS WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING):

  1. What IDs are acceptable?

Acceptable Identification: Georgia law (O.C.G.A § 21-2-417) requires Georgia residents to show photo identification when voting in person.

Any valid state or federal government issued photo ID, including a FREE Voter ID Card issued by your county registrar's office or the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS)

A Georgia Driver's License, even if expired

Valid employee photo ID from any branch, department, agency, or entity of the U.S. Government, Georgia, or any county, municipality, board, authority or other entity of this state

Valid U.S. passport ID

Valid U.S. military photo ID

Valid tribal photo ID

3.What is a Free Voter Identification Card?

If you do not have one of the six acceptable forms of photo ID, the State of Georgia offers a FREE Voter Identification Card. An identification card can be issued at any county registrar's office or Department of Driver Services Office free of charge.

To Receive a voter identification card, the voter must provide:

A photo identity document or approved non-photo identity document that includes full legal name and date of birth

Documentation showing the voter's date of birth

Evidence that the applicant is a registered voter

Documentation showing the applicant's name and residential address.

*PLEASE NOTE: You are not required to provide identification when you vote absentee by mail.

WE ARE WELL ON OUR WAY TO BECOMING A BANANA REPUBLIC, IF PEOPLE DO NOT WAKE UP TO WHAT OUR POLITICIANS ARE REALLY DOING. JUST VOTING ISN'T ENOUGH. YOU HAVE TO BE INFORMED ABOUT WHO YOU ARE VOTING FOR, AND IT TAKES MORE THAN WATCHING MADISON AVE ADS ON TV TO BE INFORMED. IN DALTON, IT MAY REQUIRE TUTORING JETHRO AND ELLIE MAE ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT POLITICIANS SAY THE WILL DO TO GET ELECTED, AND WHAT THEY ACTUALLY ARE WILLING TO DO, ONCE ELECTED. (SONNY'S CHANGING THE STATE FLAG BACK IS A GOOD EXAMPLE)

August 7, 2010 at 1:25 p.m.
chefdavid said...

The process is not hard. I do think it is crazy to have to have all this electronic equipment and then having to fill out a form that says I can vote and I haven't moved. Lets save some trees and make that form electronic.

August 9, 2010 at 9:23 a.m.
mweil4567 said...

"Thirty days is the maximum window allowed by the U.S. Constitution, Ellinger explained, meaning there are no states with a longer gap between registration and election day."

Editor, where in the Constitution can you find this provision? You cannot. It is not there. It is in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. 42 U.S.C. 1973gg-6

August 10, 2010 at 11:13 a.m.
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