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Ciboski: On Voting Rights


Liberal democracy around the world is under its greatest challenge since the depression years of the 1930s.

Winston Churchill is reputed to have said the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. This sums up what is needed to have democracy work as it should, which is that those who are making the decisions—the voters—need to be more involved and know what is happening. So how can we improve our system of self-government?

Voting rights are most basic, and as we saw in some instances in the 2018 elections, voting rights were hampered and in recent years many Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed new measures to restrict access to the ballot. The Trump administration has bolstered these efforts in the name of combating large-scale voter fraud, which has been found to be non-existent. The suppression of voting rights has been largely aimed at African Americans, Latinos, and younger voters.  The most common restriction requires voters to provide a state-issued form of photo ID, but some states have made this difficult by closing and relocating offices where these could be obtained. Early voting times have been reduced. Alabama announced it would close and reduce hours for 35 motor vehicle offices, which were heavily concentrated in the part of the state with the highest proportion of black residents.

To allow more citizens to become part of the political process, I would suggest early voting be expanded into the weekend, including Sunday, when people could cast their votes after attending religious services. Registration of young people could also occur when they apply for a driver’s license. Same-day registration could be implemented. In any case, practices that make voting difficult should not be allowed, and those that make voting easier should be put in place.

Dr. Ken Ciboski is an associate professor emeritus of political science at Wichita State University.