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I’m not exactly a model citizen for the technologically-advanced, Internet-connected world we now inhabit. For example, I don’t even have a doorbell at my house. Yet, while I’m something of a Luddite, I do have a website, and I simply couldn’t do what I do without it: www.jimhightower.com.
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In the bigger picture, I’m impressed – excited even – by the little-d democratic possibilities that the Internet can add to our political system. Take something as basic as voter registration. America proudly asserts that everyone has a civic duty to vote, yet most jurisdictions make registration a cumbersome and costly process. Instead, why not offer sign-ups online? Millions of Americans pay bills online, bank online, book flights online, and so forth – so let’s use the technology to ease the democratic process as well.
The good folks in Oregon are doing just that. Led by young voters working through such first-rate grassroots groups as the Oregon Bus Project, the legislature and governor recently okayed an electronic registration system that will be in place for next year’s elections. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to get more people involved in our democratic process – especially young people who practically live online.
Anyone with a valid driver’s license already has their essential information and signature on file at the department of motor vehicles. Using the Internet, they can now direct that agency to transfer their signature to election officials and – Bingo! – they are registered to vote. Both Arizona and Washington state have already implemented this process with great success, enhancing democratic participation by their citizens.
Why not your state? For information, connect with the Oregon Bus Project: www.busproject.org.
“Online voter registration moves toward reality,” www.oregonlive.com, March 20, 2009.
Willamette Week , June 23, 2009.