In a new report, political scientists at Northern Illinois University, Jacksonville
University and China’s Wuhan University seek to quantify the net effect of a
state’s election laws to determine the “time and effort” it takes to vote there. They
call their project the Cost of Voting Index and have published it in the September
issue of the Election Law Journal.
They analyzed the impact of 33 different variables dealing with registration and
voting laws, with differences in registration deadlines carrying the most weight.
Oregon took top honors for making it easy on voters in 2016—followed by
Colorado, California, North Dakota and Iowa. Illinois was tied for 12th overall with
Minnesota. Nebraska is number 14. Voters in 2016 faced the most
inconveniences on the way to the ballot box in Mississippi—followed by Virginia,
Tennessee, Indiana and Texas.
The index also looked at voter-registration restrictions, voter ID laws, early and
mail-in voting and automatic voter registration, among other characteristics
largely shaped by states and lower courts.
Generally speaking, states with the least restrictive voting laws have higher
turnout rates. The benefits of making it easier to vote outweigh any potential risk
of voter fraud.
But it’s also clear that voting laws don’t explain everything. Hawaii, for instance,
had the country’s lowest turnout in 2016 despite having fairly permissive voting
For more information go to Northern Illinois University website:
www.newsroom.niu.edu and The Washington Post, Christopher Ingraham’s
article at www.washingtonpost.com, “Low voter turn out is no accident”.