As Republicans across the country mount an aggressive effort to tighten voting laws, a group of former aides to President Obama and President Bill Clinton is pledging to counter by spending up to $10 million on a push to make voter registration automatic whenever someone gets a driver’s license.
The change would supercharge the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the “motor voter” law, which requires states to offer people the option of registering to vote when they apply for driver’s licenses or other identification cards. The new laws would make registration automatic during those transactions unless a driver objected.
The group, called iVote — which is led by Jeremy Bird, who ran Mr. Obama’s voter turnout effort in 2012 — is betting that such laws could bring out millions of new voters who have, for whatever reason, failed to register even when they had the opportunity at motor vehicle departments….
Kris W. Kobach, the secretary of state in Kansas and a Republican, who has been a leading advocate of stricter voting laws, said he opposed automatic registration because people who chose not to register were clearly not interested in voting.
“The assumption that by making what is already easy automatic that will somehow bring people to the polls is just erroneous,” Mr. Kobach said. “I just think it’s a bad idea. It’s not going to increase participation rates.”
Mr. Kobach has pushed for some of the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, including one that requires proof of citizenship. He said automatic registration would make that kind of check impossible.
“You’re going to end up with aliens on the voter rolls,” Mr. Kobach said. “It’s inevitable that an automatic registration system would result in many of them getting on.”