The right to vote is a sacred one
The Corbett administration is on the mark in enrolling the commonwealth in a 24-state consortium that seeks to prevent people from being registered to vote in more than one state.
Under the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, states submit their voter registration databases to a central office, which cross-checks them for duplicate registrations. Then, states can investigate, through their county voter registration offices, to determine each person's current address. The Kansas government conducts the cross-checking at no cost to any of the other participating states.
Pennsylvania has a similar system to prevent people from being registered in more than one county.
Nationally, the system has found about 5 million dual registrations, but that is not vote fraud. Rather, people relocate and register to vote. They then are registered in two states for a period before their names are removed, through routine purges, from their previous state's registration roll.
The national system will help to ensure the accuracy of registration rolls, which is indeed a worthy goal.
Unfortunately, the system also is characteristic of the Corbett administration's approach to voter registration in that it seeks only to reduce the rolls, which also is the real reason behind the drive for the state's draconian Voter I.D. law.
The same technology being used to detect dual registrations also could be used for overall registration reform that not only increases accuracy, but increases registration and actual participation in elections.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's law school has proposed technology-driven, comprehensive registration reform that would use state databases not only to ensure accurate registrations but to increase registrations. Any person included in any government database would be registered to vote at 21, and that registration automatically would transfer with that person regardless of address changes. And the registration would purge at death, with the termination of Social Security benefits.
Other democratic countries have similar systems, and they work. About 72 percent of eligible Americans are registered to vote, for example, whereas 90 percent of British citizens are registered. The United Kingdom employes automatic registration. And in countries that use such systems, actual voter participation also is higher.
Democracy isn't about purging voter rolls. It's about inclusion. Pennsylvania and the federal government should use technology to increase it.