- February 9, 2013,
The Coming Battle Over the Ballot Box
A voting-rights veteran talks about the liberal campaign to expand the electoral rolls—and why Obama is on board.
When President Obama declared victory last November, you might have missed the way he spun his voter-turnout triumph into a grievance: “I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time,” he said on election night, adding: “By the way, we need to fix that.”
He returned to the subject at his inauguration: “Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.” And in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, the president is expected to call on Congress to enact new voting legislation. Several liberal Democrats have already introduced a bill styled the Voter Empowerment Act of 2013.
The effort is a cynical partisan undertaking, according to election lawyer Hans von Spakovsky. In December, some “three dozen of the most powerful liberal advocacy groups, including union organizations,” held a strategy session, he says, citing a report from the liberal magazine Mother Jones. They agreed to “oppose all voter integrity efforts, things like voter ID,” to push for federal legislation requiring states to permit voter registration on Election Day, and to institute “automatic” voter registration.
“They basically want to use the government to do Democratic voter outreach and voter registration for them,” Mr. von Spakovsky says. “They believe that if they can get, for example, everyone registered to vote who is currently getting government benefits like welfare . . . then that will somehow get them more votes at the polls and make it easier to win elections.”
The Voter Empowerment Act would also mandate automatic registration of individuals on motor-vehicle, tax and university rolls, many of whom are aliens or have multiple addresses in different states: “You’re basically going to be registering lots of people who are ineligible and leading to many duplicate registrations.” The groups pushing such efforts—among them the Brennan Center for Justice, the ACLU and the NAACP—include “the same organizations that have been filing lawsuits over the past few years trying to prevent states from verifying the accuracy and eligibility of people on their voter-registration databases,” Mr. von Spakovsky says. (more…)