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Obstructing Democracy -- or Not

Let’s say we could have a do-over. Let’s say we had the territory, the population, the infrastructure, and all the physical properties of the United States – everything except a government. What would we build, and how would we do it?

Here’s guessing that an overwhelming majority of people would opt for some form of democracy – and that the process of forming a democracy be democratic, too. Here’s betting that most people would want the broadest possible participation in the process, and the greatest possible number of voters in every election. That kind of participation is the very essence of democracy. You don’t need a pollster to confirm all this, because you know it is true.

Probably it’s true for most, if not all, the peoples of the planet, but it is certainly true here in America, where our history has steadily expanded the eligibility to vote from white male landowners (really, that was it, in the country’s beginnings) to include women, ethnic minorities, and people of all economic circumstances.

So: why in the world do we make it hard for people to vote? Why would we ever do that?

At, we think it’s time we stopped doing it in South Dakota. We think it’s time to register all eligible voters automatically, rather than making them register more than two weeks in advance of the first elections in which they plan to vote.

Maybe you’re new to South Dakota. Or a single mother working two jobs. Or a 20-year- old student facing final exams, along with student debt mounting faster than income from part-time work. There’s plenty of reason to ask you to vote, regardless of your party or political persuasion. Is there any real reason to make you ask for a form, fill it out, and file it before you do that? The simple answer is no.

Please sign our petition to place automatic voter registration on the ballot in South Dakota in 2018. We can become part of a national movement, a healthy and democratic one, that already includes six states. A couple of years ago no state had done this. Now, six of them, with vastly differing political leanings, plus the District of Columbia, have done it. Those states are Alaska, California, Connecticut, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia.

Let’s be next. Let’s lead the rest of the country, shall we?

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