The DoJ Flying Under The Voter Registration Radar
The DoJ recently hammered out some pretty darn good rules of the road and then some when it comes to the previously under utilized and relatively unenforced motor voter laws. From the Op Ed pages of the NY Times:
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as the motor-voter law, is well-known for making it possible to register to vote at state motor vehicle offices. However, the law also required states to allow registration at offices that administer food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, disability assistance and child health programs. States were enthusiastic about the motor-vehicle section of the law, and millions of new voters got on the rolls while getting a driver’s license. But registration at public assistance offices proved far less popular.
In part, that was because of additional paperwork at those offices, but in many states, Republican officials did not want to provide easy entry to the voting rolls for low-income people whom they considered more likely to vote Democratic. The Bush administration devoted its attention to seeking out tiny examples of voter fraud and purging people from the rolls in swing states. It did little to enforce the motor-voter law despite years of complaints from civic groups and Democratic lawmakers.
In April, however, President Obama’s Justice Department sent the states a set of guidelines making it clear that it expected full compliance with the public-assistance office section of the law
There are times when it is appropriate to give kudos to the Obama administration for small changes that can make a huge impact over time. This is one of them.
The government can and should always be actively pursuing potential voters and trying to increase the participation rates in a democracy. And this is a whole bunch of small efforts to do just that.