This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published September 20, 2015 by The Washington Times.
If you think that the politicians who now run our government are bad, how about a system with leaders chosen by people too lazy even to register to vote?
That’s the goal of leftist groups that are pushing “automatic registration” while opposing common-sense election safeguards like photo voter ID laws and citizenship requirements.
The process got going in 1993, when Bill Clinton signed his first piece of legislation, the National Voter Registration Act, better known as Motor Voter. That law mandates ease of registry to vote at state departments of motor vehicles and other government agencies, such as welfare offices. But people still have to bother to sign up.
Automatic registration, otherwise known as “universal registration” was adopted in March in Oregon, where Democratic Gov. Kate Brown and the Democratic-led legislature approved the nation’s first “opt-out” registration system. On the heels of that victory, progressives in 17 states and the District of Columbia, plus both houses of Congress, introduced similar bills. In June, Hillary Clinton floated the idea of automatically registering all 18-year-olds.
California’s Democratically-controlled Senate enacted the California New Motor Voter Program on Sept. 10, followed by the House on Sept. 11. Gov. Jerry Brown was expected to sign it. Under the new law, all adult citizens who get a driver’s license, renew a license, obtain a state identification card, or file a change of address form with the Department of Motor Vehicles will be automatically registered to vote. As with Oregon’s law, people can opt out. For now.
Euthanasia-loving Oregon, which is keeping one step ahead of California as a fount for progressive activism on the Left Coast, had already adopted via referendum an all-mail-in ballot system in 1998. Mandating automatic registration is just the latest wrinkle.
The next inevitable “reform” — mandatory voting — was mentioned by President Obama last March during a town hall in Cleveland, where he said, “Other countries have mandatory voting. It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything.”
So, people who can’t be bothered to register or to vote and don’t have even a minimal grasp of American constitutional government would be forced to vote. Qui bono? Obviously, the party that sustains the Free Stuff Army, whose growth to a tipping point could end the American experiment in liberty and self-government. This would certainly qualify as “transformative.”
The national campaign for automatic registration is led by a group called FairVote, which is funded by left-leaning organizations that include the Ford Foundation, the Herb Block Foundation, the Ms. Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and George Soros’ Open Society Institute.
Based in the hippie town of Takoma Park, Maryland, where FairVote led a successful fight to change the law in 2013 to allow 16-year-olds to vote in municipal elections, FairVote is also pushing to destroy the constitutionally required Electoral College and replace it with a National Popular Vote in presidential elections. This would make smaller states meaningless in presidential campaigns (talk about “flyover country”) and create a huge incentive for even more vote fraud in major cities like Philadelphia and Chicago, where stuffing ballot boxes is second nature.
In addition to advocating a national voting age of 16, FairVote wants “a comprehensive ‘voting curriculum.’”
Imagine for a moment what will be served up to high school students, who are already immersed in a progressive stew of moral relativism, climate change hysteria, revisionist history, sexual “liberation” and increasingly stringent political correctness. It’s not for nothing that SAT critical reading scores have hit their lowest average in 40 years, and the lowest math scores in 16 years. Teachers are too busy brainwashing kids into the New Political Order to bother much with math and English. No wonder the left wants 16-year-olds to vote before they fully develop their cautionary adult natures.
For good measure, FairVote also supports the misnamed Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, which would undo the Supreme Court’s historic Shelby v. Holder decision in 2013 that struck down an outdated portion of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). FairVote employs an outrageous lie, saying that the effect of the Shelby ruling is “stripping the Justice Department of the powers it had for five decades to curb racial discrimination in voting.”
Nonsense. All the Shelby ruling did was to end the anachronistic system by which Southern states and several other jurisdictions were under special scrutiny of the Justice Department and a D.C.-based federal court panel. The high court noted that Jim Crow was long dead and that the VRA categories were based on now-irrelevant 50-year-old data.
Meanwhile, Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act is still “a permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting. It bans intentional discrimination as well as discriminatory ‘results’ based on a court’s review of the ‘totality of the circumstances’ under which it occurred,” according to the Heritage Foundation.
Unlike conservatives, who get caught up in the moment, fight a battle and then go home, the left has a long-term strategy to weaken electoral safeguards and to reduce the meaning of active citizenship.
Combined with policies that deliberately encourage mass illegal immigration, the left’s war on voting safeguards is designed to replace the American electorate with one that is unfamiliar with American exceptionalism and is shackled with government dependency.
And if Americans don’t push back, it will all soon be done “automatically.”