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Can We Get Some Small-d Democracy?

The Nation

Last week, the Same Day Registration Act was introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (S.1986) and Congressman Keith Ellison (H.R. 3957) requiring states to provide for same day registration (SDR). With SDR, a citizen who misses a voter registration deadline can register at the polls on Election Day or the period leading up to it, and then cast a valid ballot.

Voting participation in the US averages an abysmal 50 percent for presidential elections and 40 percent for congressional elections. SDR has already proven it makes a real difference.

In the 2008 election, the top five states for voter turnout were Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, New Hampshire, and Iowa. All had a turnout of 70 percent or more and all have same day registration. A total of nine states currently allow for it--the others are Idaho, Montana, North Carolina, and Wyoming.

"In these states, some of which have used SDR for 35 years, voter participation rates in Presidential Elections are consistently 7 to 12 percentage points higher than in states without [the] law," said Miles Rapoport, President of Demos, a national public policy center that has studied and advocated for Same Day Registration for nearly a decade.