Skip to comments.Universal Voter Registration
Posted on 11/04/2008 11:07:38 AM PST by Libertarianize the GOP
Universal Voter Registration
Every election cycle, our nation argues about voter fraud and purging voters. Universal voter registration is the solution to both of these problems. It eliminates voter fraud. It makes unlawful purging of voters impossible. It's also more simple to administrate than our current system, therefore costing less and easier to validate.
Universal voter registration is very simple: Every eligible voter is registered to vote by default. Voters can "opt-out" if they choose, preserving their first amendment right to free speech.
Preventing Voter Fraud
My proposal extends our existing statewide voter registration database (VRDB) to record both eligible and ineligible voters. As the Evergreen Freedom Foundation has pointed out, the removal of ineligible voters from the VRDB makes validation very difficult. Testing can be used to show the presence of bugs, but never to show their absence!
-- Edsger W. Dijkstra
For instance, imagine you check the name of a felon against the VRDB. The name is missing. Why? Was it correctly removed? Or is the omission a mistake? It's better to retain the names of ineligible voters and flag them.
State of The Art
Modern demographic databases, databases of persons, are very good at matching names, using statistics and deduction. The key is aggregating data from multiple information sources and not throw any of that data away. It's standard practice data mining techniques. (Hence the need to track both eligible and ineligible voters.)
Unfortunately, the incumbent Secretary of State is woefully ignorant of information technology. In 2005, he was sued by the Washington Association of Churches, and lost, to prevent his office from using naive name matching algorithms. He intended to use "exact name matching" (first initial of first name plus last name) to compare the VRDB against the department of licensing database. This would have disenfranchised 10,000s of eligible voters.
The fundamental problem, as old as databases themselves, is every database of persons has data quality problems. The databases from the Social Security Administration, US Postal Service, Dept of Health and others typically have an error rate of 1-5%. If managed incorrectly, as the incumbent has done, these errors accumulate. Using state of the art data mining techniques, these errors are largely eliminated.
(I have experience using demographic database technologies to better track patients for our electronic medical records product. My day job. We track millions of patients, manually correcting a few records each week.)
National ID & Open Government
Stefan is correct to infer that universal voter registration is a path to national identification. This is the same conclusion of Curtis Gans, Director, Center for the Study of the American Electorate (a conservative think tank for voting and election reform). I originally got the idea of universal voter registration from Gans' whitepaper Toward a New Procedural Paradigm (2006). Here's the opening paragraph: This paper will, in its winding way, end as an argument for a biometrically based National ID for voting and other purposes. It does not start there. It starts as an examination of how we came to have personal registration in the United States; how it, in some ways, has changed; how the motivation for its continuance and further elaboration rests on myths closely held by each major political party even though they are largely without foundation; how these myths have led to present-day increasingly cumbersome registration and voting laws, including but not limited to much more intrusive voter identification requirements and an ever increased need for administrative resources; how these changes are inadequate either to make possible the highest levels of citizen voting participation or to protect the integrity of the voting process; all of which leads, in turn, to the one available technology that will enhance these goals.
Why would I support national identification? It's a big scary idea, having the government know everything about us and tracking our every movement.
The sad truth is that we currently have de facto national identification. Our government has outsourced the job of tracking all persons to corporations like LexisNexus (nee Seisent) and ChoicePoint. Our privacy is routinely, systematically violated.
So there's an additional motivation for universal voter registration: Transparency and accountability. The basic open government argument.
The Western democracies that have universal voter registration also have legal privacy protections. By adopting universal voter registration, we'll daylight the existing massive demographic databases already in use. That in turn will be a catalyst for finally bringing privacy protections to the people of the United States.
As Curtis Gans illustrates, there is no partisan advantage to universal voter registration. The reason is our winner takes all form of voting. Whatever the size of the pie, the two parties will each take half. (This is known as Duverger's Law.)
Increases Voter Turnout?
Universal voter registration also does not increase voter turnout.
The only factor which consistently improves voter turnout is the competitiveness of the race(s). Election reforms which improve competitiveness are fair redistricting (anti-gerrymandering), alternatives to "winner takes all" voting systems, campaign finance reforms such as publicly financed campaigns.
Monkeying with the voting system does not improve voter turnout. Vote by mail, Top 2 Primary, early voting, moving the primary date around, etc, and so forth are just gimmicks.
Not Same Day Registration
Universal voter registration is not same day registration. I strongly oppose same day registration; it makes the administration of our elections a bureaucratic nightmare. You end up having election day registrations chasing cast ballots through the system. Not good.
Just like with our current registration system, universal voter registration would freeze the voter database before an election. Thirty days seems reasonable. That ensures voters are given the correct ballot for their residence of record.
Thank you Stefan, for allowing me to post once again on Sound Politics. Honestly, I don't know if losing your endorsement hurts me or helps me (haha). But I hope that I've shown my proposal for universal voter registration is very serious and has merit.
Not a bad idea, but here’s my (far simpler) take:
No absentee ballots except for military and contractors stationed overseas.
No early voting.
Purple ink on every thumb that votes.
Your idea does nothing about people who are ineligible to vote but cast votes anyway.
Oh yeah, giving the feds control always works out for the best.
BTW I’m a former felon who votes legally. Will I be purged?
“Not a bad idea, but heres my (far simpler) take:
No absentee ballots except for military and contractors stationed overseas.
No early voting.
Purple ink on every thumb that votes.”
Actually, the idea in the main post is awful. Here’s my list (similar to yours):
Purge every registration list after an election ends. BURN the books, in public. That will eliminate voting by the dead, those who’ve moved elsewhere, etc. Anyone that cares to vote will re-register - with current photo ID AND proof of citizenship.
No absentee ballots except for military and contractors stationed overseas. [Yours]
No early voting.[Yours]
Purple ink on every thumb that votes. [Yours] Here I differ a bit. Anyone missing a thumb is allowed to vote, even with a bit of purple splashed on that hand or arm - because they’ll only do it ONCE (and they get an “A” for effort). Oh, and we taxpayers don’t have to pay to fix the hand with the missing thumb.
Free visit to the Graybar Hotel for 10 years for voting in two jurisdictions in the same election, combined with PERMANENT revocation of the right to vote anywhere.
No voting for convicted felons.
Feds and states must keep a list of those who are prohibited from voting for any reason.
Ah, if the left only cared as much about legit voter registration as they do gun registration or even car registration (gotta get those tax $$$). I don’t know what the answer is, but a good first step (won’t happen though) is repealing the Motor Voter act.
I have long held that if people are not motived enough to register to vote without prodding they shouldn’t. The rationale for Motor Voter was to make registration easier. But it wasn’t all that hard before. You go to the county office and register. Now people find the county office for their unemployment check, for their welfare check, to get whatever license they need. What is it so hard to find to file to exercise their most precious right? What Motor Voter did, and the Democrats knew what they were doing, was opening registration up to further fraud. They succeeded.
Let's define "ineligible" voters. In order to vote in a national election, you must be a citizen of legal age, of sound mind, and have no felony conviction, right? Please help me out if there are any other restrictions I've forgotten about.
So the question is, how is most vote fraud perpetrated? Is it by ineligible voters, ie, non-citizens, felons, the underage, and the mentally feeble, voting one time in their precint? I would suggest that the answer is no - most vote fraud is perpetrated through one person voting multiple times (in multiple polling places), either through absentee ballots cast in multiple locations or simply bussing otherwise eligible voters from one precinct to the next.
My solution eliminates the most common forms of vote fraud by ensuring that any individual can only vote once. I should also mention that I agree with a national ID card to help eliminate many of the ineligible voters.
“””Let’s define “ineligible” voters. In order to vote in a national election, you must be a citizen of legal age, of sound mind, and have no felony conviction, right? Please help me out if there are any other restrictions I’ve forgotten about.”””
You overlooked an extremely important restriction re national elections.
Namely, you must prove your residency in the state prior to voting.
It seems there are hundreds of thousands of folks who are registered in two or more states.
Since the President is chosen based upon the majority of electoral votes and not popular vote, we need to close the sewer where folks pick and choose which state they vote in.
take a finger print put into the database have a reader on the voteing mechine ..you start the voting mechine with your finger it reads your print if you havent voted it turns on if you have voted it does not
I see no need for a National ID card. We already have a national id and that is our social security number and every eligible voter has a social security number.
It will take a whole lot of screaming for the next two years for the states to cleanup the voter registration system and the voter id requirements.
Each year that we let the scoundrels kiss us off, the worse it is going to get.
With Jason's proposal no one is purged, but you might have to prove your eligibility if your name still appears on a list of ineligible voters.
Early voting should be massively encouraged. It prevents dirty tricks like the Rat eleventh-hour Bush DUI story (it’s too late to affect people who have already voted if they release it right before the final day of the election; it can’t be released earlier because then people have time to realize that it’s just a sleaze play).
That's true, but by requiring voting in person, combined with a requirement to see a photo ID, much of the cross-state voter fraud is eliminated.
Well I’ve been faithfully voting for a decade so I suspect I would be fine.
I must respectfully disagree. We should have a single election day, not many. The longer the voting process is drawn out, the more opportunity for fraud. Keep in mind how fraud is perpetrated - typically a single person voting multiple times. We must limit the opportunities to cast multiple ballots as much as possible.
Your example can work both ways. How many people voted early for Obama might have voted for McCain after Obama's "bankrupt the coal industry" statement?
That is a perfect example of a last-minute item that should be diluted until time for full analysis is available.
Disagree. Yes, dirty tricks are cut out. So is legitimate information (like Obama's comments regarding the coal industry). Election Day should be Election Day.
“”””That’s true, but by requiring voting in person, combined with a requirement to see a photo ID, much of the cross-state voter fraud is eliminated. “””””
Voting in person and requiring photo ID will stop a person from voting twice.
BUT, it does not stop a person from voting in the state of his/her choosing. For a political activist it would be no big deal for them to drive from Illinois to vote in Indiana, as one example.
You're correct. That's where the indelible purple ink comes in. Paint those thumbs!