I've been reading about ACORN and voter fraud. The right demonizes ACORN for tampering with voter registration records, while the left points out that such tampering matters only when real voters are being purged, not bogus voters being added. This is just one of several incidents (like the Ohio Supreme Court's ruling against the state Republican party last week) that are causing people on both sides to wonder if this year will be another Florida 2000.
What cracks me up about all this is that both sides of the debate accept as a given that we need to register voters in the first place.
I understand the need to regulate elections -- I agree there needs to be a list of eligible voters that the poll workers can authenticate human beings against. But it's 2008 -- why does that list have to be generated through a process as archaic and error-prone as a dedicated paper form?
Can't states just hook up to the IRS or Social Security master database and run a query that says "give me all the legal adults that reside in this state," bounce it off of VICAP or whatever other criminal database can be used to disqualify felons, and boom, done?
You would still need a registrar of voters, because someone would have to have legal responsibility for vetting the list to weed out people not eligible to vote. But that's a much simpler process when the raw list of all possible voters can be generated automatically.
We're obviously still growing into democracy, but "voter registration" as a distinct public-facing process is something we should have outgrown by now.