Here’s your Monday night water cooler topic: Check out the new drive for universal voter registration. Reader Mark Jackson sent the story link with his comment: “This has vote fraud written all over it.”
The nation’s much-maligned election system passed a major test last week when more than 132 million Americans — a record — cast ballots with few reports of problems.
But now, election reformers are calling for a move toward a “universal voter registration” system, in which the government takes the lead in ensuring that all eligible citizens are registered to vote.
“This means the registration process would no longer serve as a barrier to the right to vote,” said Wendy R. Weiser, a lawyer for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. “It would also eliminate the ACORN issue and all the gaming of the system.”
In the United States, unlike other major democracies, citizens, not the government, are responsible for seeing to it that they are registered to vote. And when people move, even if across town, they must update their registration, usually with a local office.
In 2004, more than 1 in 4 American adults was not on the voter rolls. Since then, private organizations such as the League of Women Voters and activist groups like ACORN, an advocate for people in low-income communities, launched major voter registration drives. These groups do not put voters on the rolls. They simply turn in applications from people who sign forms saying they want to register.
But ACORN, among others, was sharply criticized for submitting a huge number of registration cards with questionable information and from people already registered.
“All across America, our people wasted untold hours dealing with duplicate registrations,” said R. Doug Lewis, executive director of the National Assn. of Election Officials.
Many more Americans encounter a more mundane problem — failing to update their registration after they move.
“The current system is simply not designed for a mobile society,” the Brennan Center for Justice said in its report on universal voter registration.
Under its proposal, states could update their computerized voter rolls when residents move from one city to another. And they could add new voters who move to the state and apply for driver’s licenses.
Some proposals would automatically add teens to the voter rolls when they turn 18. Under some plans, Congress could create a national voter registration roll, modeled after the Social Security database.
Automatic, mandatory voter registration and tracking strikes me not only as a bureaucratic nightmare, but also ideologically unsound. I’m with John Stossel: Some people just shouldn’t be voting. Leave ’em alone.