Cheater’s paradise? PA’s Democrat governor announces automatic voter registration

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News September 20, 2023

Pennsylvania Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro announced on Tuesday his administration will implement a new system in which any state resident getting a driver’s license or ID card will be automatically registered to vote. The unilateral move quickly came under attack as yet another blow to voter confidence in the integrity of elections.

Opponents of the move pointed to the irony of a system which registers residents to vote when they obtain a state-issued ID but does not require them to show that ID when they proceed to vote. Critics also say any such system should be created through legislation and not via executive order.

“Voter identification is a widely supported proposal that makes more sense than ever with this move toward automatic voter registration. If the commonwealth is automatically registering people to vote when they obtain identification, they should then be required to provide that identification when they vote,” state House Republican leader Rep. Bryan Cutler said in a release issued by his office.

“The problem here is not necessarily the end, but the means. The governor is following the sad and misguided precedent set by his predecessor that recognizes our election laws need updating and modernized but then disenfranchises the General Assembly from exercising its constitutional prerogative to make laws,” Cutler said. “This unilateral action on the eve of what is likely to be a hotly contested and close election will cause many Pennsylvania voters to continue to question the security and results of our system.”

According to an analysis by the Foundation for Government Accountability:

“Individuals who are not eligible to vote would inevitably be erroneously placed on to the voter rolls — individuals may be non-citizens, convicted of a felony, temporarily residing in the state, or not wish to register or vote in the state. This would compound the problem states already have with inaccurate and out-of-date voter rolls. Add that to the option voters have to request permanent vote-by-mail status when they register…and you have a recipe for stray ballots being delivered all over the country.”

Cutler also pointed out that questions remain about how automatic voter registration will work practically in terms of determining voter eligibility and the additional burdens it will place on an already stressed bureaucracy.

“Just because someone is eligible for a state-issued identification card does not mean they are eligible to vote. With legislative proposals that would provide driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and the ability to vote taken away from those who commit serious crimes, there has been no information provided to us about how automatic voter registration will remain nimble in the face of change and workable in the determination of eligibility,” Cutler said. “Even more concerning is that the burden of determining eligibility could further stress an executive branch that continues to fall short of Pennsylvania’s expectation of top-notch customer service. It is remaining questions like these that underscore the need to have major policy changes like this vetted through the legislative process instead of hasty unilateral executive action.”

Automatic voter registration is error-prone, ripe for mismanagement, abuse and even fraud, contends the Election Transparency Initiative (ETI).

The governor has directed “agencies to begin conducting Automatic Voter Registration, a process in which individuals interacting with Department of Motor Vehicles offices to obtain new or renewed driver’s licenses and state ID cards, or with other agencies such as housing, education and more, are automatically registered to vote,” ETI said in a press release.

Automatic voter registration requires state agencies, whose primary purpose is not voter registration, to transfer customer records to the state election agency in order to register individuals automatically, in turn undermining election security, creating an administrative burden on election officials, and making it harder to keep voter rolls up to date, according to the ETI release.

Pennsylvania currently allows lawfully present non-U.S. citizens to obtain drivers’ licenses and state ID cards if they can provide proof of identity, including an unexpired Employment Authorization Card (EAD), according to the ETI release.

“EAD waiting periods traditionally required by the Department of Homeland Security to discourage frivolous asylum claims (those not based on a legitimate need for humanitarian relief) have been sidestepped by the Biden administration as illegal migrant crossings along the Southwest border approach record highs. The administration recently launched a ‘first-of-its-kind national campaign’ urging tens of thousands of non-citizens to apply for work permits,” the ETI release reads.

National Chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued the following statement:

“Automatic registration is not ‘key to strengthening democracy’ as Gov. Shapiro dishonestly contends — it’s the antithesis of Election Integrity and threatens the trust of voters in fair, secure, and transparent elections they deserve. Like other schemes including same-day registration, permanent absentee voter lists, and the automatic mass mailing of absentee ballots and/or absentee ballot request forms, automatic registration leaves virtually no time to verify the accuracy of voter information. If you want to increase the likelihood of fraud, multiple or duplicate registrations, and participation of ineligible voters—such as non-citizens and illegal aliens, temporary residents, and convicted felons—look no further than the process of dumping government data onto the voter rolls.

“We urge the State Senate to immediately initiate a comprehensive investigation. Registering to vote should be an affirmative action taken by a voter where that voter’s qualifications are confirmed upon or after registration, but before they vote. One should have to opt-in, not opt out. Unfortunately, Gov. Shapiro’s government-sponsored voter registration drives will have a devastating effect on the epidemic of disenfranchised voters who already doubt our elections are conducted with fairness and honesty.”

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