What if everyone voted? Arizona has the opportunity to be in the forefront of broad voter participation, rather than being a leader in restricting the franchise. As the Supreme Court weighs Brnovich v. DNC and Arizona Republican Party v. DNC, and our State Legislature slogs through 24 Republican bills to restrict voting, what if we changed the basic premise: What if we worked to have every eligible voter cast a ballot?
A project by the AAAS Commission on the Practice of Democratic Citizenship (amacad.org/ourcommonpurpose) – based in 50 national listening sessions with diverse communities and led by 35 leaders from a broad range of geographic, demographic and ideological perspectives – provides a roadmap for exploring that premise.
Seven recommendations include increasing voting centers and early voting; making Veterans Day our federal election day; establishing same-day registration and universal automatic voter registration; pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds; making voting, like jury duty, mandatory for citizenship (with “none of the above” as a choice); paid orientation, like jury training, for voters’ first federal election; and restoring voting rights to citizens with felony convictions upon their release.
Arizona’s Honorable Justice Sandra Day O’Connor established the iCivics program (icivics.org) to provide teaching resources for “equitable, non-partisan civic education so that the practice of democracy is learned by each new generation.” ASU’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership partners with iCivics, Harvard, and Tufts to extend history and civics education to diverse K-12 students across the nation. UA is home to the National Institute for Civil Discourse, co-founded by Presidents George W. Bush and William Clinton, to work and communicate more effectively across political, faith and other points of difference.
Arizonans won’t agree on all AAAS recommendations, but in the tradition of O’Connor and our flagship universities, let’s put energies toward bolstering the right and ability to vote.