The Vote: Get Off Your Butt and Register—But Keep the Nanny State Out of It
Should the state automatically register people to vote? The New Jersey Star-Ledger thinks so. Under the inane title Christie tries to rig the system by vetoing motor-voter bill, the Star-Ledger editorialized:
When you apply for or renew a driver's license in New Jersey, you need at least a few of the following: a birth certificate, a passport, an old license with a photo, a credit card bill, a social security card, or a bank statement.
From this process, the MVC gets an accurate profile -- who you are, where you come from, and how long you've been around -- which means the State of New Jersey can easily tell whether you are authorized to vote.
Gov. Christie, however, pretends otherwise, so he vetoed a bill last week that would automatically register voters who are renewing or applying for a driver's license.
Dr. Michael McDonald of the University of Florida, says New Jersey's voter registration is closer to 81 percent because the governor didn't factor in "deadwood files," the voters who left or died but haven't been purged from the rolls.
So the question is this: If 1 in 5 eligible voters isn't registered, why not fix it?
I left these comments, edited and expanded for clarity:
“So the question is this: If 1 in 5 eligible voters isn't registered, why not fix it?”
The question is, if 1 in 5 eligible voters choose not to register, why should the state do it for them? If someone is capable of going to the MVC with a pile of documentation (a birth certificate, a passport, an old license with a photo, a credit card bill, a social security card, or a bank statement), then they are capable of going to their local Board of Elections and registering.
The bill (NJ A1944) may or may not be a "Voter Fraud Enhancement and Permission Act,” as Christie charges: We are getting a one-sided view here. But that’s beside the point. The right to vote is not, contrary to popular opinion, an obligation to vote. A right to do something implies a right not to. That I have a right to own a gun does not mean I should own a gun. If someone makes an informed choice not to participate in elections, it’s his right. The government should not be in the business of “nudging” people one way or another. As a representative of all of the people, it should be neutral on voter registration.
Furthermore, if someone is too lazy to register through normal channels, then he is likely too lazy to get educated on the issues so he can reason his way to informed opinions—i.e., he shouldn’t be voting anyway.
The Star-Ledger showed its own arrogance with this statement:
Republicans' refusal to acknowledge the new majority coalition is political suicide: Racial minorities, unmarried women, millennials and seculars now represent 63 percent of the electorate, pollster Stanley Greenberg says, which is a substantial jump from the 51 percent in 2012. Democrats win each group by a 2-to-1 margin.
In this regard, the Star-Ledger apparently believes that “racial minorities, unmarried women, millennials and seculars” are both [A] too lazy to register and [B] robotically programed to vote Democrat. If the last—which I don’t for one minute believe; we all have free will—then NJ A1944 is as much about Democrat electoral rigging as GOP electoral rigging. It’s an admission that the Democrats need lazy ignoramuses to get and keep them in office. The Star-Ledger’s attempt to politicize the mundane issue of voter registration method begs the question: If the Democrats are motivated not by fairness but by the belief that automatic voter registration will help them at the polls, then would NJ A1944 even have been introduced if those groups favored Republican?
Voting is too important to water down the registration process. That’s what shifting the registration process to agencies whose mission is to do something entirely unrelated to voting—like issuing driver's licenses—would do. What’s next; automatic registration when you sign up for welfare; or ObamaCare; or file your income tax return; or register a firearm? Boards of Elections are mission-oriented to oversee the electoral process. They are the only agencies that should be handling voter registration. My guess is that any overlap with other government agencies is an invitation to illegitimate voter registrations due to incompetence or inattention, if not outright voter fraud.
OTHERs’ NOTEWORTHY COMMENTS:
For once, I agree with [the Star-Ledger]. Automatic voter registration through MVC is a good idea, PROVIDED that they put a very prominent “I AM NOT A CITIZEN” warning on those issued to (lawful) aliens. Indeed, that should be the ONLY way that someone can register to vote.
Consider: as you note, MVC requires substantial proof of identity, absent from the traditional paper registration forms. Additionally, rules require that one change one’s address shortly after moving. The rolls could be purged if people fail to renew. Checking with other states to see if someone’s registered twice would be a lot easier. People could be limited to voting at the address which appears on their license.
And, of course, if you’ve got that ID, it should not be considered “voter suppression” to require that you show it when you vote.
Alas, you WILL insist on poohpoohing the reality of vote fraud, when you’re within shouting distance of Hudson County and when you yourself reported on this:
And numerous investigations reveal that dead Democrats routinely cast ballots. See e.g.
Voter fraud is very real. Almost inevitably, the perps (and beneficiaries) are Democrats, which goes a long way to explain why you don’t care.
My comments triggered a busy thread. Here are a few noteworthy comment replies and my answers:
Well put, you make valid points worthy of consideration.
I personally view voting as my civic duty, but I also believe people have the freedom of choice.
If one fails to participate in the election process at a minimum, they limit their right to be heard.
[There is no “right to be heard.” You do, however, have a right to express yourself. In this regard, the right to freedom of speech is a much more important and much more fundamental way of expression than your vote. Your vote is one means of expression, of course. But you can reach a lot more people a lot more effectively through freedom of expression through speech—and thus exert a lot more influence on policy and elections—than through the vote. I do both, of course. But you’ll be “heard” by a lot more people by speaking out via these forums, social media, letters-to-the-editor, letters to your congresspersons, town hall meetings, linking to articles and to the work of think tanks you agree with, etc., etc. Let’s face it, your vote is basically symbolic, not meaningful.]
As far as your argument that if people don't take the time to educate themselves on a topic or candidate, then they shouldn't be voting anyway is incorrect.
First, as you stated Voting is a right. That right enables me to vote for or against a candidate or an issue for whatever reason I choose, no further requirements are necessary. That's called freedom.
Second, the notion of making an informed decision is contrary to the two party loyalty system, therefore the argument is self defeating.
People blindly vote for a candidate simply due to party affiliation making ignorance bliss.
My "argument that if people don't take the time to educate themselves on a topic or candidate, then they shouldn't be voting anyway" is not "incorrect." I of course recognize that people can and should be able to vote a certain way for any reason or for no reason. I expressed my opinion. That's all. I did not mean to imply otherwise.
I certainly disagree that "the notion of making an informed decision is contrary to the two party loyalty system." The two-party system has nothing to do with being informed. It's certainly true that voting by party affiliation can be blind. But it can also be thoughtful, based on that each party stands broadly for differing political and philosophical principles at least in theory.
bobby bow wrote,
Because voting is a right, not a priviledge. Every US Citizen has the same right to vote, no test or obsticles shall be passed to abridge this right. [sic]
I did not advocate any test (other than proof of citizenship) or obstacle to the right to vote. Nor did I argue against the principle that "Every [law-abiding adult] US Citizen has the same right to vote." If merely taking minimal initiative is an "obstacle," then there are obstacles to the exercise of every right. A right is a guarantee to freedom of action. Action by definition implies initiative and effort.