As Republicans across the country mount an aggressive effort to tighten voting laws, a group of former aides to President Obama and President Bill Clinton is pledging to counter by spending up to $10 million on a push to make voter registration automatic whenever someone gets a driver’s license. The change would supercharge the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the “motor voter” law, which requires states to offer people the option of registering to vote when they apply for driver’s licenses or other identification cards. The new laws would make registration automatic during those transactions unless a driver objected. The group, called iVote, is led by Jeremy Bird, who ran Mr. Obama’s voter turnout effort in 2012. It is betting that such laws could bring out millions of new voters who have, for whatever reason, failed to register even when they had the opportunity at motor vehicle departments. Many of those new voters would be young, poor or minorities — groups that tend to support Democratic candidates, Mr. Bird said.
“I do think it can be a complete game-changer,” he said. “It’s definitely countering what we see as a very organized and well-funded effort by the Republican Party across the country to chip away at voting rights.”
In the two years since the Supreme Court struck down critical parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Republicans in several states have moved to shut down early voting, require identification at the polls and cull voter rolls in what they say is an effort to combat fraud.
That campaign has forced Democrats to try to block the efforts in state legislatures, many of which are controlled by Republicans, or fight them in court after they pass.