What will it take to get more Kansans to the polls? For Tuesday’s election, Barton County turnout was less than 50 percent.
One group tried to shame people by making their attendance at past elections public. Mostly it just made them angry.
Pundit Jon Stewart suggested more people might want one of those “I voted” stickers if the stickers were deep-fried. Hey, it works for okra.
New voting restrictions may have made a difference in some states with close elections, according to Wendy R. Weiser with the Brennan Center for Justice. She found, “a pattern this year of candidates benefiting from voting restrictions they helped to pass.”
In Kansas, the photo ID requirement reduced turnout by 2 percent when it was rolled out in 2012. This year, more than 24,000 Kansans who tried to register to vote had their registrations held in “suspense,” because they failed to provide proof of citizenship. Weiser concluded, “The margin of victory in Kansas looks perilously close to the margin of disenfranchisement.”
In other states, the restrictions may have changed the outcome. For example, new restrictions in Virginia may have reduced turnout by 2.4 percent, or 52,000 votes. Weiser reports, “Senator Mark Warner eked out a victory over challenger Ed Gillespie by only 0.6 percent of the vote, or just over 12,000 votes.”
The integrity of future elections depends on making sure everyone who is entitled to vote is able to vote. However, those who are able need to take responsibility for registering correctly and then going to the trouble of actually voting.