On April 28, Democratically controlled Vermont became the fourth state in the nation to push back against Republican claims of voter fraud by making it easier to vote. Democratic governor Peter Shumlin signed a bill that will automatically register Vermont residents to vote when they apply for a driver’s license, unless the person chooses to opt out. Vermont joined California, Oregon and West Virginia as the only states in the U.S. with this type of law. In Oregon and California the laws were passed along partisan lines, but in West Virginia and Vermont they received strong bipartisan support.
Guests Myrna Perez and Sam Seder joined host Chris Hayes to talk about the law on Hayes’ show All In on Thursday evening. Hayes observes that not long ago, no state offered automatic voter registration. But now, along with the four states that have approved it, there are some 20 more that have either pending legislation or an upcoming ballot question on the subject. President Obama has called for automatic voter registration nationwide.
Hayes mentions that in the opposite camp, the number of states that have passed strict photo ID laws for voters far outnumber the current states with automatic registration:
There is, unfortunately, a strong countervailing force at work and that is the number of states that require some form of voter ID, particularly states with strict photo ID requirements. 17 states, states either require or request a photo ID, in all more than 30 states require or request some kind of ID to vote. Studies show that such laws affect voters of color disproportionately, now, which conservative politicians sometimes admit.
That statement is followed by a clip of former Senator Jim DeMint, now an employee of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, who says that in states that have adopted photo ID laws, elections have begun to move “towards more conservative candidates.” Which of course has been the plan all along. Republicans know that the majority of Americans hate them and their policies, so they stack the deck as much as possible to keep people who would vote for Democrats away from the polls. All while claiming to be preserving “the integrity of the vote.”
The implication in some Republican arguments about voter ID is that Democrats are being elected by hoards of people who are ineligible to vote — namely undocumented immigrants. The pushback against laws like the new one in Vermont is that by registering people when they get a driver’s license, states will also be registering thousands of people who are not citizens and who are in the country illegally. Seder says the notion being pushed by Republicans is that undocumented workers will get a driver’s license, check the box that says that they are a citizen, and then be registered to vote. He calls out how ridiculous that notion is, in one sentence:
As if then all of these people are going to risk the idea that they could get deported so that they could vote presumably for the local comptroller or something.
Exactly. If you are in a country illegally, either because your visa has expired, you entered without documentation by crossing the border, whatever, the operative words are “under the radar.” But the GOP wants you to think that there will be a rush of those people registering to vote at the DMV, who will then eagerly show up at the polls to vote for Democrats.
Here’s the conversation, via Media Matters:
Featured image via MSNBC screen capture