UPDATED: If you think that fears of immigrants voting, or that same-day voter registration might lead to fraud, are the province of tin-foil-hat-wearing nuts in some Republican-neocon-tea party fantasy, just read these comments and then consider the source: New Jersey State Senator Ronald Rice, a Democrat who represents Newark.
"What I do know from my experience with voter fraud, is that when you have same-day registration, in my city and county, they bus people in," Rice said. "They bus in the dead and they bus in immigrants."Senator Rice has a valid point. But his comments and concerns illustrate another trend. Election law changes and changes to "make it easier to vote" don't necessarily tip the balance of elections between the parties. They can tip the balance of elections within parties; that means, primary elections. And in most of the nation, where incumbents have "safe" seats in the legislatures or in Congress, the real elections are primary elections.
Moreover, voter registration affects local elections the most. That's because "packing" the rolls affects small races the most. The effect of invalid registrations gets diluted -- theoretically -- over larger areas and larger populations. In addition, these invalid voters will get to register in political parties, giving them an additional chance to affect primary elections.
Those primary elections, incidentally, include the primaries for party county committee and state committee races. Those party office elections are critical. In some states, it's those party committees which set the rules for how presidential delegates are awarded in those states' presidential primaries (winner-take-all versus proportional-awarding-based-on-popular vote).
[Earlier coverage: Here's an earlier report from the Newark Star-Ledger, following up its original story on Sunday, and some Democratic state legislative committee press release. The legislation will be posted when available.]
Returning to the issue of automatic voter registration for new drivers, note that such new drivers would be violating the oath on the voter registration form that they are citizens, but (1) no one is seriously enforcing that, and (2) having a readily-identifiable non-citizen population which can just as readily be identified and prosecuted for, say, false statements against the government (see title 18, United States Code, section 1001) means some conniving government agents can exercise quite a bit of undue power over some easily-threatened people.
After all, the power to prosecute and deprive one of liberty is perhaps the second greatest and most fearsome government power there is. (The first one? The power to send you off to war and likely to die.)
How would that power be misused? Like to "convince" people to vote a certain way, or not vote; you get the point.
Eric Dixon is a New York corporate lawyer who runs his own practice. He has successfully represented political campaigns for presidential candidates, and for state and local candidates in New York and New Jersey.