COMPARED WITH WHAT some Americans have to tolerate on Election Day, registering to vote is relatively painless. That’s partly thanks to the National Voter Registration Act, a 1993 law at the root of a case the Supreme Court will hear on Monday. The state of Arizona argues that it should be allowed to subvert the law’s obvious purpose. The court shouldn’t let it.
In 1993, Congress looked at the “complicated maze” of often confusing and sometimes discriminatory state election rules, and it found that “unfair registration laws and procedures can have a direct and damaging effect on voter participation in elections for federal office.” So lawmakers established national standards. Americans could register to vote when getting driver’s licenses, which gave the act its unofficial name: the “motor voter” law. Congress also required every state to accept a simple, common, mail-in registration form drafted by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The record indicates that Congress meant these to be among the “procedures that will increase the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for federal office.”