Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass.
Rep. Barney Frank has confirmed that Sen. Chuck Schumer “is working on legislation regarding voting,” lending weight to reports that Democrats are planning to implement a federal mandate to automatically register millions of people to vote.
As WND reported, Wall Street Journal reporter and political commentator John Fund has been warning that Democrats have a plan to propose universal voter-registration legislation – within months or possibly even weeks.
Fund initially told a crowd in November 2009 at a David Horowitz Freedom Center forum that Schumer, D-N.Y., and Frank, D-Mass., would be the architects of the universal-voter legislation.
“We read that on some right-wing websites, but we’re not sure what they’re talking about,” Frank’s spokesman told WND. “We haven’t heard anything about it. We know it started with the Journal’s John Fund, but we don’t know anything about it, honestly. We’re not sure where he got it from.”
However, Fund corrected himself when he spoke with WND.
“I made an error. I should have referred to John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,” Fund said. “It’s not Congressman Frank. It’s Congressman Conyers.”
Neither Schumer’s office nor Conyers’ office has returned WND’s numerous calls and e-mails requesting comment over a period of several days. But just hours after WND spoke with Frank’s office, Frank released a letter to Fund, blasting him for the allegations and firmly denouncing claims of his involvement.
“You simply made this up with regard to me,” Frank’s Jan. 13 letter stated. “I must tell you that I was not surprised, because this sort of fictionalized attack on political opponents has sadly become characteristic of many on the right.”
Schumer, chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, held a hearing on voter registration in March 2009. Jonah Goldman, director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, testified before the committee about concerns with the current registration system and its impact on the 2008 election. Goldman’s testimony drew from an Election Protection report titled, “Election Protection 2008: Helping Voters Today, Modernizing the System for Tomorrow.” That report included the following policy recommendation:
Automatic Registration: Automatic registration shifts the burden of registration from voters to government and eliminates the need to rely on independent, third-party voter registration organizations to sign up voters. Such a registration system will help states efficiently identify eligible voters from other government databases and add those names to their registration rolls. Voters can opt out if they prefer not to be registered, but for those who want to be included on the rolls, this system will continually update the names of eligible voters, eliminating the last minute deluge of registration applications just before registration deadlines.
Following the hearing, Schumer argued that as many as 7 million registered voters were prevented or discouraged from casting ballots in the 2008 election.
“Each one alone may not seem like an egregious violation, but put together, you get massive disenfranchisement,” Schumer said in a statement. “This is unnacceptable and undemocratic.”
In his book, Fund explained that proponents of unversal-voter registration believe the process should be overseen and regulated by the federal government.
“The idea, embraced by Barack Obama when he was a presidential candidate, is to shift responsibility for registering to vote from the individual to the federal government,” Fund writes in his book. “All eligible citizens would automatically be registered to vote, which existing lists such as DMV records, income-tax returns, welfare rolls and unemployment lists being used to enroll everyone. Once registered, individuals would stay on the federal rolls, even if they move to another state or district.”
(photo: National Review)
Fund warns that the government databases contain names of non-citizens, mentally incompetent individuals and felons – factors that would usually disqualify a person from voting in most states. He also notes that many people own property in more than one location and pay taxes to numerous government entities.
“[U]niversal voter registration would automatically register them in more than one location, allowing them to vote more than once – either in person or by mail,” Fund explains.
He said the plan would destroy the integrity of the registration process, much as widespread registration drives by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, were reportedly rife with criminal actions, including people registered multiple times under fraudulent names and addresses. In the 2008 election, ACORN’s practices led to investigation in more than a dozen states.
“Now they will sell this very cleverly,” Fund explained. “They will say, well, OK, ACORN did have some problems with voter registration. We shouldn’t have these third-party rogue groups out there. So, let’s put ACORN out of business, and let’s register everybody.”
“Democrats believe it is too hard for people to register and vote; Republicans believe it is too easy to register and vote fraudulently,” Schumer said. “There may be a way to solve both problems simultaneously through new technology and forge a better bipartisan solution.”
Even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has advocated for automatic voter registration.
“A system of automatic registration, in which the government bears more responsibility for assembling accurate and secure lists of eligible voters, is a necessary reform,” then-Sen. Clinton told the New York Times in November 2008.
In addition to statements made by Frank and Fund, a congressional staffer confirmed Schumer’s involvement.
“What we know from statements from advocacy groups that support universal-voter registration is that they have been working with Sen. Schumer’s office since approximately last spring to create a bill,” the staffer told WND. “We don’t know exactly when he will introduce it, but it has been predicted to be introduced in the near future for several months now. Schumer definitely has been, and seems to be, the point person on this.”