Why can’t voting be fun?
Voting seems so serious. No wonder most people don’t vote in local elections. (28% voter turnout in our borough election last October.) We should celebrate voting — make it fun — and not a drudgery. If you have ever been in line in the early morning hours or after a long day at work to do your civic duty, you probably weren’t smiling. All you’re really doing is checking one more thing off your to-do list.
Kenai Peninsula Votes is saddened to see the number of states that have worked this past legislative session to make voting harder. In Alaska, we sure did a heck of a job talking about election reform from both directions, and none of them passed, even in their respective houses. (Also remember that voting in Alaska this past election had no reports of voter fraud.)
Recently, I took a weeklong vacation and took the opportunity to ask some people I met in Texas and Oregon what they thought would be the best way to get more voters to vote.
Here are some of the ideas I heard:
We could have a national voter week. Polls would be open Monday through Friday for this week and from 7 a.m.-10 p.m., except for Friday. On Friday, there would be a parade down Main Street where all the voters can strut their stuff, and at the back of the line would be the candidates who ran for elections, as they happily sweep up the confetti and mailers tossed at the marchers.
Other ideas were early voting for three weeks, same-day voter registration, easier access to vote by mail, and drive-thru voting. There was a suggestion that if your ballot needs correcting (curing), the election folks would give you a heads up before the final vote deadline to fix the problem. Bring your family to watch you vote! Make it a spectator event.
Positive messages could be sent to you after you vote thanking you for a job well done. Another idea is after you vote and get your, “I voted sticker,” you could show it at the local grocery store and get a small discount. Also, I heard from young people who wanted to vote via the internet — but not until that system can be secured.
I think the public should demand more measures to make voting easier.
Instead, politicians are making voting rules. The people need to make them. Politicians should not be making voting laws, because they are the ones who are directly affected by the rules and they have a definite conflict of interest.
We should get back to building a voting system that we are all proud of so we can smile after we leave the polling center and say, “My voice matters and I am glad I live in a country that gives our vote more meaning as the process to vote becomes more supportive to the peoples’ needs.”
Alex Koplin is a founding member of Kenai Peninsula Votes.