In his recent talk at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund performed a public service in warning America of Democrats' plans for universal voter registration, or UVR. It may sound like a just and decent thing to advocate, but UVR is nothing less than a means for Democrats to pack the electorate and facilitate election shenanigans. I know this to be true because I'm a computer programmer, and it's the job of guys like me to ensure the integrity of information, a.k.a. data. For the Information Technology professional, voter registries are nothing but data.
Voter registration is a problem with a purely technological solution. UVR is not a technological solution. UVR complicates what is a very simple problem. The problem with UVR is that it creates yet another mandate on the states, involving several state agencies; entails much work, much of which is duplicative; and uses multiple sources of data, which any I.T. pro will tell you is nutty.
But Mr. Fund's jeremiad would never have been necessary had America decades ago adopted "automatic registration," or AR. AR is the anti-UVR. Both AR and UVR seek to register everybody, but AR actually does it, and does it cleanly, without duplicate registrations, and with far, far less work. UVR is hit and miss, and cannot by its nature ensure that all citizens will be registered correctly, or even at all, whereas AR can.
For some time now, I've been writing about AR and other election reform ideas. Even though softened for non-technical types and sprinkled with liberal doses of what I call "humor," my articles probably suffered from terminal tediousness and might have been a wee bit longish. So, here's the gist of AR in one sentence:
Computer programs read through the Social Security Administration database, extract the data of age-eligible citizens, then send that data to the states.
Voila! Why make mandates on all those state agencies and dragoon all that manpower entailed by UVR when a computer program can register everyone? A competent programmer could write the extract program in his sleep.
But, there's a little more to AR than just an extract program. For what the states would receive from the feds would be raw voter registries, and a state might need to update its raw voter registry for it to be consistent with state election laws. This would consist only of deleting registrations, not adding them. Under AR, the only responsibility left to the states in voter registration would be in maintaining ineligibility lists. If states kept such ineligibility lists as computer files, they could apply those files to their raw registries and be ready for an election in no time.
But the progressives pushing UVR want nothing to do with ineligibility lists; they want everybody to have the vote, including felons. Voter eligibility, however, is partly a matter of state election law. Currently, only two states allow incarcerated felons to vote, Vermont and Maine. So, UVR tramples all over states' sovereignty.
With AR, voter registration is reduced to nothing more than keeping the feds updated about one's address. We already do this when we file our income taxes and remit our quarterly payments. So we're already automatically updating the feds' databases in our other interactions with the feds. And there are means to update one's address directly at any time, such as Form 8822. The Social Security Administration even allows folks to change their addresses using the Internet.
Conservatives may worry that with the entire citizenry registered to vote, AR might well spell the end for them. This fear is unwarranted: America remains a center-right country. Even Massachusetts, the bluest of states, will elect an advocate of limited government like a Scott Brown. The bigger threat to conservatism comes from election fraud and behind-the-scenes theft, which UVR (as well as the current system) makes possible. Correct voter registration is the single most important factor in eliminating fraud.
UVR stinks on ice. Even if one were to be charitable about the motives of those pushing it, UVR is still a prescription for election chaos. Its potential for error (not to mention the work involved) is actually worse than what we have. AR is the way to go.
Read more about AR here, and then click on the link at the end.
Jon N. Hall is a programmer/analyst from Kansas City.