Should the U.S. adopt automatic voter registration? | The Tylt

Should the U.S. adopt automatic voter registration?

Lawmakers across the political spectrum are working to revamp the way U.S. citizens vote in elections. While many liberals worry there is wide-spread voter suppression occurring across the nation, conservatives fear rampant voter fraud. Neither party can agree on how to fix the problems. Liberals support instating automatic voter registration to ease voting for millions of Americans. Conservatives fear automatically registering people to vote will increase instances of voter fraud. What do you think? 

FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should the U.S. adopt automatic voter registration?
A festive crown for the winner
#RegisterEveryoneNow
#LetIndividualsChoose
Dataviz
Real-time Voting
Should the U.S. adopt automatic voter registration?
#RegisterEveryoneNow
#LetIndividualsChoose
#RegisterEveryoneNow

Automatic voter registration (AVR) moves registration from an "opt-in" system to an "opt-out" system. When eligible voters go to government agencies, typically the DMV, their information is put into a voter database and they are registered to vote. 

Most states currently have systems where citizens must indicate on forms that they want to be registered. States using AVR require citizens to indicate they do not want to be registered. The Brennan Center for Justice explains: 

Again, the voter can opt-out; it is not compulsory registration. Second, those agencies transfer voter registration information electronically to election officials instead of using paper registration forms. These common-sense reforms increase registration rates, clean up the voter rolls, and save states money.
...The results have been exciting. Since Oregon became the first state in the nation to implement AVR in 2016, the Beaver State has seen registration rates quadruple at DMV offices. In the first six months after AVR was implemented in Vermont on New Year’s Day 2017, registration rates jumped 62 percent when compared to the first half of 2016.
The benefits of AVR extend beyond increasing the number of people registering. The policy keeps voter rolls more accurate by creating a constant stream of updates between registration agencies and election officials and by reducing the odds of mistakes caused by processing paper registration forms by hand. Cleaner rolls reduce errors that cause delays on Election Day and prevent eligible voters from casting regular ballots. AVR also lowers costs. For example, the transition to electronic transfer allows states to save money on printing, mailing, and data entry.
#LetIndividualsChoose
Lawmakers and pundits are largely divided along party lines when it comes to AVR. Republicans worry AVR will lead to confusion and voter fraud. Hans von Spakovsky and Ashley Vaughan, members of the conservative Heritage Foundation, write for the National Review:
The real issue here is a disregard for election integrity. And that includes those who are calling for an end to traditional voter registration in favor of automatic voter registration based on government databases such as driver’s licenses and property-tax records.
While government records are useful for verifying voter registrations, research shows they would be ineffective in creating accurate voter rolls. One of the most glaring problems with these databases is that they cannot verify a basic eligibility requirement for voting — citizenship. Non-citizens can receive driver’s licenses in all 50 states, and illegal aliens are receiving licenses in more than a dozen states, including California. Noncitizens also pay property taxes. Automatic voter registration would register all such ineligible individuals.
Moreover, individuals can be listed multiple times in different government databases that would be a source for automatic registration. For example, one person may pay taxes in multiple counties and multiple states, raising the possibility that he could vote multiple times, in multiple jurisdictions.
Also, voter registration requires a signature to verify petitions, ballot initiatives, and absentee ballots. Many government databases don’t contain signatures and thus would be useless for verifying signatures.
#RegisterEveryoneNow

The New York Times editorial board disagrees, arguing states with AVR have more accurate voting logs and far higher voter turnout than those without. 

The gold standard is automatic voter registration, which has become law or policy in 13 states since 2015, with more likely to adopt it soon. In states with automatic registration, which cross the political spectrum, an interaction with a government agency, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, automatically registers an eligible citizen to vote, unless he or she affirmatively opts out. This increases voter turnout, saves money and increases the accuracy of voter rolls.
In Oregon, the first state to adopt automatic registration, the rate of new registrations quadrupled in the first year, to 272,000; by one estimate, more than 116,000 of those Oregonians were unlikely to have registered otherwise. Nationwide, automatic registration could add as many as 22 million voters to the rolls in a year, which would translate into roughly eight million more people casting a ballot, according to a study by the Center for American Progress.
...Voting in a democracy shouldn’t be a test of your mettle or perseverance. It shouldn’t depend on how much time you can take off from work, away from child care or other obligations. And in 2018, there’s no reason it can’t be made as easy as possible for everyone.
#LetIndividualsChoose

Robert Knight wrote a piece for the right-leaning Washington Times outlining many of the reasons why conservatives oppose laws to make it easier for people to vote. 

Progressives want to sign up everyone automatically without affirming citizenship or an opt-out. What they call “automatic voter registration” is really “mandatory voter registration.” Here’s why it’s a bad idea:
• Not everyone wants to be registered to vote. Forcing inclusion against their will is an act of a top-down, authoritarian government.
• 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.
• It’s the gateway to mandatory voting. President Obama has already floated the idea. Compliance could be forced through threat of fines by the federal tax system, as with health insurance under Obamacare.
#LetIndividualsChoose

Victor Joecks, a columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, argues the state's potential new automatic voter registration law would actually set people up for committing voter fraud. 

“There are 21,676 driver’s licenses and ID cards held by people in Nevada who are not legally eligible to vote,” state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said last year opposing this plan. “These people use a green card as their primary form of identification when presenting themselves to the Department of Motor Vehicles to receive their driver’s license or ID card. When one of these people go to renew their driver’s license or ID card, or change their address, this initiative will register that person to vote, despite the fact they are legally ineligible to vote.”
That’s bad, and it gets worse. In Nevada, no one checks to confirm if a voter is a citizen. The best counter-argument proponents of the initiative have is that noncitizens will tell the DMV not to register them. But when the strongest safeguard you have against fraud is the honor system, you don’t have safeguards against fraud.
...Even assuming that most legal immigrants want to do the right thing — a fair assumption — they now have to take a proactive step to avoid committing a crime. When you’re at the DMV, your priority is getting out of there as fast as possible. You aren’t thinking about voting. Many noncitizens will end up registered to vote because it’s the quickest way to get out of there.
#RegisterEveryoneNow

In a letter to the editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Vegas resident Angela Angers disputes Joecks' assertion, writing that automatic voter registration will be far more secure than current voter registration, as DMV workers already have the know-how and infrastructure needed to verify people's identities.

AVR comes with stronger verification procedures than we have now. Volunteers with clipboards at Albertson’s don’t ask for a passport and Social Security card like DMV workers do. If Mr. Joecks is worried about fraud, shouldn’t we implement the more secure and cost-effective system?
I’m all for keeping ineligible people off the rolls, but I’m also for greater security, more convenience and protecting our right to vote. I’m voting yes on Question 5.
FINAL RESULTS
Politics
Should the U.S. adopt automatic voter registration?
A festive crown for the winner
#RegisterEveryoneNow
#LetIndividualsChoose