Is This Really Democracy?

Almost every day I’m getting emails about registering to vote in the upcoming American presidential election. They are not spam.

When I worked in radio I was on a number of mailing lists. I stepped back from radio last year, but haven’t unsubscribed. Just in case.

The emails are coming from a public relations firm working to increase voter turnout in November. It is a non-partisan approach (though some political scientists will tell you voter turnout effects who wins or loses), something radio stations will adopt as a public service. But it leave me asking questions.

If America is truly a democracy, why are there so many hoops for its citizens to jump through before they are allowed to vote? Or do they want to make it difficult to discourage voting? Or at least to discourage certain people from voting?

In Canada if you are a citizen age 18 or older you can vote. End of story. We have a permanent voters list, updated each time we go to the polls.

Years ago, before the voters list was established, we had enumerators. When an election was called they would go and knock on every door in the nation to find out who was eligible to vote, then make a list from that..

The advantage to that system was that if you had moved since the previous election you were then on the list in your new area. Given our mobile population, that made a lot of sense.

In Canada, if you are not on the list you can still vote, even if you haven’t registered beforehand. Just show up on election day with proper identification and cast your ballot. You can do that in some places in the US, but not all.

We’re a democracy. We want citizens to take part in the political process. Why would we make it difficult for citizens to vote?

I’ve heard all the arguments about voter fraud. The system has checks built into it. Making it difficult to register to vote should not be one of them.

How do they hold elections where you live?


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