Should the U.S. adopt automatic voter registration? | The Tylt
Should the U.S. adopt automatic voter registration?
Members of Congress introduced the Automatic Voter Registration Act, which would automatically register eligible citizens to vote. According to Adam Gitlin in The Hill, automatic voter registration "not only expands access to the most fundamental right in our democracy" but also "increases participation" and "reduces mistakes on the rolls."
The initiative, led by Democrats in the Senate, is in part a response to the many states that have already adopted automatic voter registration. Oregon, for example, has seen large increases in voter participation since adopting automatic voter registration, and many members of Congress think it's time automatic registration to be adopted at the national level.
But opponents of automatic voter registration believe it is a bad idea for a number of reasons. Robert Knight argues in The Washington Times that "mandatory voter registration" would violate the rights of individuals to choose whether or not they want to participate in the political process if Congress simply makes that decision for them. Knight also argues that by signing up everyone "automatically without affirming citizenship or an op-out," it would increase the prospect of voter fraud.
It violates a citizen’s basic free speech rights, such as expressing displeasure with the electoral process by not participating. Then there’s the issue of privacy — voter registration lists are publicly available.
It opens the door for vote fraud, because it fills voter rolls with people who may have no intention of ever voting, or transients, or college students who would be able to vote again in their home districts.
There is no reliable way to ensure that all registrants are actually U.S. citizens. Some states now issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.