As I’ve said, the call in Heather Gerken’s book for more data was a good idea. So good in fact that I’ve really been working to gather data myself and present it to the public. Roadblocks abound.
Not so the voter registration reform folks. There are two problems, both of which point to a serious disinterest in data.
First is inaccurate data as I pointed out in the Pew report, which I intend to delve into even deeper.
Second is the making of unsubstantiated claims with no basis in fact. I pointed to this problem in Gerken’s book. For example, Gerken claimed that election officials were reducing the number of voting machines in precincts that were not supportive of the election officials’ preferred candidates.
The Committee to Modernize Voter Registration is another one with a great interest in making broad sweeping claims but with little interest in data to support it.
Here are some of the claims from their website regarding how citizens will be kept from automatically being added to the voter rolls.
A modern voter registration system will enable election officials to use secure government databases to automatically update voter registration rolls for eligible – and only for eligible – Americans.
Automatic and permanent voter registration offers even more protections against non-citizens being added to the rolls than our current, paper based registration system.
Most of the voters who will be automatically added to the voter registration list come from other databases that contain information about citizenship status based on documentation provided by the voter.
Many Motor Vehicles agencies collect citizenship information and all agencies that administer federal social service programs collect citizenship information.
With such claims one would assume that some work or research was done on this issue. As I’ve noted, two emails and a letter over the course of 6 months went to the Committee seeking the research or data. One of my questions:
Do you have a list available of the states that do not ask about or record citizenship at the time a person receives services at the Driver’s License facility?
What their letter suggests is that they have no intention of answering my questions regarding the automatic registration of noncitizens with their proposal and that they can not provide one single piece of evidence to back up the claims they make on their website that are recapped above.
Do I want modernization? Of course, I work at it every week in this office. But I refuse to let so called proponents of modernization to make spurious claims about their own proposals. If the Committee to Modernize wants to be a serious player in the efforts to modernize voter registration, they ought to excise from their website the host of unsupported claims they make. Let’s bring the facts to the table in this important effort.