Massachusetts Senate unanimously agrees to automatic voter registration legislation

Massachusetts is one step closer to joining a dozen other states in automatically registering its citizens to vote after the state Senate voted unanimously to pass the proposal. 

“It should be the state’s burden to register voters — not yours,” state Senate President Harriette Chandler (D) said in a statement following the vote. The measure will automatically register all citizens to vote when they visit the DMV or sign up for health insurance.

The Senate still needs to negotiate with the House on a final bill, but the lower chamber passed a similar bill last month. The new version will then be sent to Gov. Charlie Baker (R) for final approval.

Latest liberal fetish

The drive to turn voter registration into an automatic process across the country began in 2015, when Oregon became the first state to embrace the practice. Blue states like New Jersey and Washington have since adopted the reform in response to lobbying from a coalition of left-wing activists, including Common Cause, the ACLU, Progressive Massachusetts, and College Democrats.

Now, the Bay State is suited to join other progressive strongholds in pursuing legislation that would inflate the voter rolls with Democrats who otherwise couldn’t be convinced to take the time to register. Advocates of the new bill hope to sign up as many as 680,000 voters before the 2020 presidential election. 

Opening Pandora’s Box

But registering more people to vote isn’t all that it seems. Matt Clark, a spokesman for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), said when similar legislation was proposed in that state in 2016 that his boss was worried about the costs and problems with voter fraud 

“It runs in stark contrast to another law,” Clark said. “It completely ignores the problem of checking eligibility for folks.”

Maryland’s Democrat-dominated General Assembly eventually passed the registration reform in April without the governor’s signature. This was after the state passed a series of laws giving licenses to undocumented immigrants and prohibiting DMV officials from verifying citizenship status or determining if applicants are eligible to vote.

But that’s not all. After Vermont became the fourth state to approve automatic voter registration, a few noncitizen green card holders opened their mail to discover that they were suddenly registered to vote, forcing the state DMV to temporarily shut down the system.

An imaginary problem

In 1993, President Bill Clinton signed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), mandating that states give citizens the opportunity to register to vote when they go to the DMV and other government agencies. This means that Americans already have a clear and simple way to register.

“There is nothing that stops someone being registered to vote other than that person not wanting to be registered to vote,” Maryland Republican Party executive director Joe Cluster argued. In fact, new laws in most states simply ask registrants to opt out instead of opting in — at the risk of signing people up who are otherwise unqualified.

Proponents of automated registration like Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), whose state instituted the reform in March 2018, argues that the reforms are necessary because “voices [are] going unheard in our state’s democratic process.” But Inslee and other progressives assume that choosing not to register is a form of voter suppression.

In fact, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby explained that the left is simply “pushing uninformed, unmotivated, or uninterested voters into the political process.” 

“Having failed to induce millions of citizens to register to vote despite hectoring, guilt-tripping, and making the process so easy as to be virtually effortless — would-be voters can sign up almost instantly in person, online, or by mail,” Jacoby wrote, “liberals and Democrats are resorting to their usual default position: mandating it by law.”

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Vote or Die

And what are the results of this compulsory registration drive? After the NVRA was passed, registered voters rose from 75 percent in 1994 to 85 percent in 2012. Rather than create more voters, though, “the law seems mostly to have added to the substantial pool of citizens who are registered but don’t bother to vote,” according to Paul Glastris from the Washington Monthly.

When Hollywood’s threat to “Vote or Die” didn’t work, the left slowly turned to compulsory registration. When this movement fails to turn the country blue, however, Democrats will undoubtedly join countries like Australia and turn to compulsory voting as the next step in a predictable evolution.

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