We’re facing one of the most consequential presidential elections in our history this year. Guess what?

Voter rolls across the country are a mess, according to a new study by the Pew Center on the States.  The New York Times gives some highlights:

The report found that there are about 1.8 million dead people listed as active voters. Some 2.8 million people have active registrations in more than one state. And 12 million registrations have errors serious enough to make it unlikely that mailings based on them will reach voters.

This report has visions of hanging chads dancing in my head.

The story also reports that a vast number of potential voters aren’t registered—I have to say that this doesn’t bother me one iota. That these people haven’t registered indicates to me that they probably lack the dedication to civic virtues that make them learn about the issues before making up their minds.

Another alleged problem:

People who move, moreover, often take no steps to inform administrators at their old addresses, and a new registration does not typically result in a notification to cancel the previous one. Yet a quarter of all voters assume that their registrations automatically move with them, the report found.

Call me cold but this one doesn't cause concern for me. I don’t think people who care this little about preserving their right to vote are going to be the ones who read up on the candidates before casting that vote.    

What bothers me more is that the New York Times story (and I assume the Pew study) seems to endorse the system followed in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Peru, and Sweden, where the government is responsible for maintaining registries of eligible voters.

Says one official:

“Part of the problem is that it is difficult for us to be proactive,” said Linda H. Lamone, Maryland’s administrator of elections. “We have to rely on the voters.”

On whom would they prefer to rely–people or people who work for the government?  

The U.S. system of decentralized voter rolls with citizens being responsible isn’t inferior to systems in Europe and Argentina, that famous model of democracy.

We need to start a campaign to clean up our voter rolls, not hand the job over to the government (which is going to be too busy managing our medical care anyway).

One way to begin to work on making sure our voting procedure is honest is to require all people who come to the balloting box to cast a vote to present an ID showing that they are who they say they are. This is pretty easy.  

Or, it would be easy, if Attorney General Eric Holder weren't trying to convince us it's racist to ask for an ID. But it is the best way to ensure that our votes are protected. It prevents all of us, including members of minorities, from having an unscrupulous person steal our votes.