All of the stories about voter registration issues in this year's election beg the question: isn't there a better way? The answer, of course, is yes, and Washington D.C. is providing a good example for all of America.
The district's city council unanimously passed a bill to make voter registration an automatic process at the city's Department of Motor Vehicles. Rather than opting-in to register to vote, the new applications will have the choice to opt-out. Got a driver's license? You're signed up to vote. No other forms needed, you're in.
D.C. is joining five states — California, Connecticut, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia— that also have automatic voter registration, although this is a fairly recent phenomenon. Oregon was the first state to pass an automatic registration law in 2015.
Other states have struggled to pass bills that would allow the process, with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoing an automatic registration bill last year. A similar reform, allowing voters to register at the polls on Election Day, has also hit snags. Eleven states currently allow it, with attempts to remove it in Maine and North Carolina being overturned by ballot initiative and the courts, respectively.
If anything, the automatic registration laws don't go far enough, as basing registration solely on DMV records limits the process to people who own and use cars. Why not tie automatic registration to post office records or social security or some other national database. It's not like these days we need to verify a voter is a white, male property owner.
It's a bit astonishing that anyone would want to make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots. Okay, maybe not that astonishing.