“Election authorities made it easier to vote because of the pandemic (through mail-in ballots) and if we could then make it easier to vote, why don’t you do it universally instead of creating a narrative that doesn’t wasn’t true?” said King, who followed in his father’s footsteps as a suffrage activist.
The human rights defender and his wife Arndrea Waters King were speaking at an event on Tuesday (US time) in suburban Atlanta with the community group GALEO, which aims to mobilize community members Latinos from Georgia to get more involved in the elections.
Unlike Australia, voting in the United States is not compulsory, resulting in millions of people not registering or simply not showing up on election day. While 67% of Americans voted in the 2020 election between Trump and Joe Biden — the highest level in 120 years — voter turnout has generally hovered around 50% since the 1950s.
Turnout also tends to be lower in midterm elections.
However, the first day of in-person early voting in Georgia this week showed record numbers according to Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, with around 131,000 people voting, up from around 71,000 in the last midterm elections in 2018. .
The result is emblematic of the importance Georgia will play in determining the balance of power in the Senate, where Trump-backed nominee Herschel Walker is trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock.
The state is also home to another widely watched midterm race between high-profile Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
Arndrea Waters King attributed the high turnout to the work of grassroots organizations, many of which have spent years registering people to vote.
“On the one hand, it’s great that we’re doing this work and can see the benefits, but on the other hand, we shouldn’t have to. Our laws must protect us,” she said.
Improving access to the vote was part of Joe Biden’s first-term platform, but his attempt at sweeping reform earlier this year stalled in the Senate because Democrats didn’t have the numbers.
Since then, some advocates and politicians have pushed for a new wave of change – including the idea of “universal” (or compulsory) voting.
Like Miles Rappaport, the co-author of the book 100% Democracy and a former secretary of state told the Herald and age earlier this year: “One of the things we hope to do by promoting the idea of universal suffrage is to put a north star there that says the best way to secure people’s right to vote is to affirm as a positive civic duty for every American.”
The idea is ambitious because of America’s decentralized, state-based electoral system. But some states have already tested “ranked choice voting,” in which candidates are ranked in order of preference.
Among them is Alaska, where top Republican Sarah Palin lost her bid to return to politics as a candidate for the US House of Representatives last month.
Proponents say the system reduces the chances that extremists will be elected, but others, like Trump, have been highly critical, calling it a “ranked choice crap vote”.
“It’s a totally rigged case. Like many other things in this country,” he falsely claimed at a rally in July.
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