A Democratic push to expand access to the ballot in Pennsylvania has hit a roadblock, with one top Republican calling voting a responsibility that shouldn’t be made too easy.
“While I think it’s an indefeasible right to vote, I also think it’s a responsibility,” state Sen. Mike Folmer (pictured above), a Republican who chairs the Senate’s State Government committee, told a local news outlet. “And with any responsibility, there should be a certain amount of things that you have to do.”
Folmer was explaining why his committee has taken no action on several Democratic-sponsored voting bills. One would create early voting, putting Pennsylvania in line with 37 other states. Another would establish automatic voter registration. And a third would give workers paid time off to vote, which 23 states offer.
Folmer is far from alone in thinking that voting should require some hurdles. As we’ve written, numerous conservatives, including leading opinion-makers like George Will and Jonah Goldberg, have made versions of this case in support of restrictions on voting, or in opposition to expansive voting reforms. They argue that making voting difficult filters out people who are unmotivated, and won’t cast their ballots intelligently.
The prominence of this line of thinking was a key theme of The Great Suppression — in fact it’s a bit of a hobbyhorse over here. But it’s important to keep highlighting these views, because they make clear something important: For all our political differences, we like to think a consesnsus exists about the value of broad-based democratic participation. It doesn’t.