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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Media Should Do More to Publicize Voter Registration Deadlines

Writing at The Journalist’s Resource, Thomas E. Patterson, author of  “Is the Republican Party Destroying Itself?,”notes that “In most Western democracies, voter registration takes place automatically through the government. France is one of the few that, like the United States, require citizens to initiate their registration. But France has one thing the United States does not have, and it helps tardy citizens to remember to register in time — a uniform national registration date. News outlets throughout France highlight the pending closing of the registration rolls.”

In addition, “Registration deadlines in the U.S. are a patchwork of state deadlines. They come and go with little fanfare from election officials and not much more from the news media. Not surprisingly, research has found that few Americans know their state’s registration deadline, although the number jumps up in the states where it’s easiest to remember — those that allow residents to register at the polls on Election Day.”

Patterson provides this list of voter registration deadlines in the U.S.:

Oct. 9  
Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas

Oct. 10  
Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Florida

Oct. 11   

Oct. 12
Illinois, Missouri

Oct. 14  
North Carolina, Oklahoma

Oct. 15

Oct. 17

Oct. 18
District of Columbia, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, West Virginia

Oct. 19  

Oct. 24  
Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota

Nov. 1 

Nov. 8  — Election Day      
California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Patterson concludes, “The news media have a role to play in ensuring that Americans get a chance to vote. They could do more to tell citizens when and how to register. Research indicates that large numbers of the unregistered are unaware of where to go to register, when registration offices reopen, or what they need to bring with them as proof of eligibility. If there’s space in the news for yet another poll on the midterms, space can be found to alert Americans to registration deadlines.”

There are exceptions. But generally, big media all across America, including newspapers, television news programs, radio and social media, do a poor job of informing the public about voter registration deadlines and other important information related to voting. Voter registration deadlines and relevant information about how, when and where to register to vote should be posted every day at least during the last six weeks leading up to elections in newspapers, television news and websites, as a public service.

One comment on “Media Should Do More to Publicize Voter Registration Deadlines

  1. Victor on

    Fighting fraud should go hand in hand with better voting information, including national databases (that could be a patchwork of state ones).


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