The chairwoman of the Election Assistance Commission told the nation’s state legislators last week that she’s opposed to automatic voter registration.
Adding qualified citizens to the rolls whenever they do business with a state agency, unless they choose to opt out, has quickly become a widely accepted component of most democracy reform agendas. Eighteen states will have so-called AVR in place in time for the 2020 election after a surge of acceptance in state legislatures this decade. And the practice would be nationally mandated under HR 1, the comprehensive campaign finance, election and ethics legislation the House passed in March.
But Christy McCormick argues that registering to vote is a form of speech protected by the First Amendment and that “not registering to vote is a choice – we should respect our citizens’ choices.”
Rick Hasen, a law professor at the University of California Irvine, published an item about the presentation on his election law blog, saying that the presentation “raised some eyebrows” at the gathering in Nashville of the National Conference of State Legislatures….
In a statement Wednesday, McCormick said she was “specifically asked by NCSL to provide a counterpoint and share some of the challenges to implementing automatic voter registration.” McCormick said she favors so-called automated registration, which often occurs at motor vehicle bureaus, in which people renewing drivers’ licenses are invited to register.
“Voters should give prior consent to registering to vote for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, indicating political affiliation, choosing to register in a different state, or declining to register based on religious objection,” she said.