Initiatives aimed at registering poor Americans to vote is un-American, or at least that is the conjecture Matthew Vadum made early last month in a controversial article published by American Thinker. Vadum, the author of Subversion, Inc.and Senior Editor for the non-profit watchdog group Capital Research Center, argues that leftist groups are trying to use the poor as a “battering ram” to advance redistributionist policies. The poor masses, Vadum suggests, are the tools with which Obama and like-minded organizations plan to drag America further from small government ideals. Vadum essentially asserts that voter registration is infringing on his American Dream.
The progressive radio host Thom Hartmann went toe-to-toe with Vadum shortly after the article was released. On the Thom Hartmann Program Vadum defended the views he put forward in the article arguing that, given the chance, welfare recipients would vote for their own interests. Hartmann, expressing concern for the one in seven Americans below the poverty line, argued that everyone, not just the poor, votes for their own interests. Vadum had no substantive response to Hartmann’s prodding.
Although some may cast Vadum off as a loose cannon speaking from the fringe of American politics, the issue of registering voters has been a hot-button topic in the last few months. In mid-September, New York Senator Charles Schumer wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder asking for more strict enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Sections 5 and 7 of the NVRA, commonly known as the Motor Voter Laws, require states to make voter registration available to citizens when renewing or applying for a driver’s license and at all offices that provide public assistance. In his letter Senator Schumer points out that voting rights agencies have brought suit against Ohio and New Mexico for non-enforcement of the NVRA.
In an article for American Thinker, John H. Watson (I’m no detective, butI have a sneaking suspicion this is a pseudonym) argues that the NVRA allows for more voter fraud because of easy access to registration without proof of citizenship. So the analysis then becomes one of costs and benefits. Do we make registration more accessible and run the risk of higher incidences of voter fraud? It seems that the benefits outweigh the costs. Senator Schumer states in his letter that before enforcement of Motor Voter Laws, Ohio’s DMV only processed 24,000 voter registrations a year. In the year following the lawsuit 121,000 voter registration forms were processed. While after a crackdown on voter fraud in 2007, the Justice Department came up with only 86 charges of voter fraud.
Full Article: The Voting Poor « State of Elections.