Someone I know and respect recently posted a meme outlining several things that a person needs a valid ID to do (you've probably seen it because it's been floating around for a couple of years now), and what they do not need one to do. The only item listed under the "not do" column is "voting". Someone asked the poster that if this is true, why would you have to register to vote?
Voter "registration" is less about qualifying who can vote and who cannot, and more about who is voting WHERE and for what.
In addition to voting for national candidates (which is all most people think about whenever they actually DO vote), voter registration also ensures that voters for a particular area (city, county, etc.) are allowed to vote on certain topics (like bond measures) that directly affect them, and not vote - or not have their votes counted - for topics that do not.
Also, voter registration ensures that candidates for an office representing a pre-defined area (e.g., a Texas House of Representatives district) are not receiving votes from voters living outside of that district. This last item is primarily why voter registration exists. Every other reason is ephemera.
Here is a solution that I think addresses multiple issues (including both voter registration and party/candidate ballot access):
- The state (Texas, in my case) should allow the voter to register by the political party of their choice - even if that political party is NOT one of the Old Parties, or even if they (as an independent voter) choose not to register as a political party affiliate.
- Require the state to give ballot access to the candidates of all valid national political parties with whom the voters have indicated their affiliation (those that have so indicated). This would guarantee that voters would have the ability to vote for the candidate of THEIR choice regardless of political party affiliation.
- Set an achievable - but not unduly arbitrary - deadline as to when the political party's candidate listing is required to be in the office of the state's Secretary of State so that the candidate's names can officially be added to the ballots in that state.