California’s Governor had a busy weekend, breaking out his pen and signing nearly two dozen bills into law. Most of them centered on the voting process in the Golden State, but while liberals are taking a victory lap there are hints that these maneuvers are going to signal trouble down the line. The big ticket item in the legislative package was the “New Motor Voter Law.” This brainstorm will make voter registration automatic for any person receiving a new driver’s license or renewing an existing one.
Targeting California’s recent record-low voter turnout, Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed a measure that would eventually allow Californians to be automatically registered to vote when they go the DMV to obtain or renew a driver’s license.
The measure, which would also allow Californians to opt out of registering, was introduced in response to the dismal 42% turnout in the November 2014 statewide election.
That bill and 13 others the governor signed Saturday, will “help improve elections and expand voter rights and access in California,” Brown’s office said in a statement.
That’s the headline and what’s being discussed in the media, but it actually goes further than that if you read the text of the bill. They’re going to be registering all sorts of folks to vote.
[T]he Department of Motor Vehicles would be required to electronically provide to the Secretary of State the records of each person who is issued an original or renewal of a driver’s license or state identification card or who provides the department with a change of address, as specified. The person’s motor vehicle records would then constitute a completed affidavit of registration and the person would be registered to vote, unless the person affirmatively declined to be registered to vote during a transaction with the department, the department did not represent to the Secretary of State that the person attested that he or she meets all voter eligibility requirements, as specified, or the Secretary of State determines that the person is ineligible to vote.
The two highlighted sections in the text of the bill above show where the door to voter fraud problems is being thrown wide open. First of all, it’s not just drivers who are being registered… it’s anyone with an ID card or any documentation where their address is recorded. It’s also worth noting that this law is being pushed through in the very same year where another law allowing licenses for illegals resulted in more than half of new drivers licenses issued in 2015 going to “undocumented immigrants” Supporters of the bill might argue that the DMV is surely keeping track of which licenses are which and only the ones issued to citizens will be tagged for voter registration, right? Yeah… what could possibly go wrong? We might also want to recall that this is the same sterling, ethical state government body which was found to be selling licenses to unqualified people for $5K a pop earlier this year.
The second highlighted section of the bill should be a major red flag as well. Under traditional paths to voter registration it has been accepted that the aspiring voter would proactively prove that they are an eligible citizen. This new system is precisely the opposite. The default condition will be the registration of the document holder and it is then incumbent upon the state to prove that they are not eligible. Given the already strained resources of agencies in every state, how carefully do you think they’ll be scrutinizing them?
The California Secretary of State’s argument in favor of this measure is also rather incoherent.
“The New Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens,” Padilla said Saturday. “Citizens should not be required to opt in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”
Registering to vote is not “a barrier” in any sense of the word. It’s a verification process. He also tosses out some smoke and mirrors here by trying to conflate a driver’s license with fundamental rights. Having a driver’s license is not a right… it’s a privilege which is only granted to those who qualify and can be easily revoked when that privilege is abused. As for “opting in” as described here, that’s nonsensical. Free speech actually is a right, so you don’t need to opt in for it. In the case of due process, we do “opt in” for certain aspects of it since anyone can wave their right to an attorney or a trial by jury. These are the arguments of a snake oil salesman. Nobody is required to vote, and we do, in fact, opt in for voting when we demonstrate that we are qualified to do so. (Or at least we used to until bills like this came around.)
Of course, we can’t have this discussion without Democrats constantly claiming that voter fraud isn’t real and citing the paucity of convictions for such crimes. This is one of the most hollow arguments imaginable. The primary reason for this is that we actually have no idea how much voter fraud takes place because there is essentially nobody looking for it. As I wrote more than three years ago, we don’t even know what the murder rate is in the United States and we’re actively trying to solve all of those cases.
So California is about to register a massive herd of new voters. How many of them will actually be legally entitled to cast a ballot? I suppose we’re just not going to worry about it.