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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Pre Election Voting Registration System is Severely, Inherently Defective

Millions were unable to vote in the 2012 general elections due to registration problems



It’s 2012: the year of the London Olympics, and the apocalypse (as predicted by the Mayans.) Also, it’s the year that I was going to vote for the first time in the presidential election.

I was that weird kid in third grade—I told my grandfather that I’d vote for Al Gore if I could, after explaining why in great detail from what I had gathered from watching the news. I obviously was unable to vote then, but I made a promise to myself to make my voice heard by casting my ballot in the next election. And I did—or so I thought.

On campus, MASSPIRG set up a stand where students could register to vote. I was told that all I had to do was fill out a registration, which they would later send to me, and I’d be all set and ready to vote. I did so eagerly, in anticipation of participating in my first election as an adult.

Election day arrived and I arrived at my voting station, hoping to cast my ballot. Unfortunately, due to our nation’s inherently flawed registration system, I was told that I was unable to because there was some sort of mix up in my registration. I wasn’t registered to vote, even though I vividly remembered filling out the pre-election registration form.

I have no idea what happened to my form—maybe it was sent out too late, or not at all. Interestingly enough, I found out that I wasn’t alone in this exasperating predicament. A Google search led me to a survey conducted by Harvard/MIT which revealed that in 2008, two to three million vote-eligible citizens showed up at their voting stations and were turned away due to registration issues alone.

Poll station workers, recalling their experiences on election day of 2012, revealed that a large percentage of calls received were from disgruntled people inquiring about their voter registration status. Several people who claimed they had registered were told that they hadn’t  Some were told that, despite having previously voted, their status wasn’t up to date. Others were told that their voting stations had inexplicably been changed.

Even citizens who were able to vote faced problems: waiting in long lines, uninformed voting station volunteers, the demanding of identification (which is illegal.)

This leads me to wonder: Since the system is so obviously flawed, why haven’t steps been taken to make it more efficient? Millions of people are unable to vote, not because of any fault of theirs, but due to the gross inefficiency of the the pre-election registration system. Why are we required to go through this rigorous registration process, only to be subjected to identity verification at the voting stations? It’s redundant.

The U.S. could follow other countries’ examples, such as Finland, where voter registration is automatic. Technology is available to help keep track of registration, to make the task of voting easier. Something must be done, whatever it is. President Obama summed up the issues regarding the voting system perfectly in his victory speech upon reelection: We need to fix it.