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This is as much question as post, but my idea would be as follows.  President Obama should direct the Social Security Administration to make available to each state a list of all eligible US citizens broken down into legislative districts for the purpose of automatically registering its citizens to vote.  The following benefits of such a plan should be made clear.

1.) This will make voting easier for all individuals, as unnecessary delays at the polling place will be eliminated.

2.) The Social Security lists are the most complete and accurate lists of eligible voters.  These lists are automatically updated as individuals reach the appropriate age, only legal US citizens can get a Social Security card, citizens are automatically removed at the time of their death, etc...  And through already existing Social Security communications,
citizens could be informed as the their current address and polling place with ample time to correct if necessary.

3.) This will be much cheaper for the states.  Voter registration not only requires much time and energy, but also requires much postage and other expenses as well as salaries that would now be saved.

There are other benefits as well.  This obviously would be rejected in most states, but if some states were to take the offer and implement it, it would be apparent to other states, the media, etc... that this is an easier, more effective and cheaper way to register voters and that it would seriously reduce the long lines at polling stations.  I would think that in states where voter ID is required, it is also required to be free as it would otherwise be a poll tax.  In these states, one Social Security card per five years could be granted at no cost to fulfill this requirement for the state at no additional cost to the state.

I'd rather Congress do it for the entire country but we know that isn't going to happen.   What do you guys think?  What argument would the R's use to oppose this?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't forget Selectie Service. (0+ / 0-)

    Kids are still registering for that, right?  When they go to the post office, they get their voter registration.

    When kids go to college, at all freshman orientations, they get the option to change their registration.

    There are lots of options.

    And with Social Security, if you get your number when you're under 18, a law should automatically register you.  That way all you have to do is show your Social Security card as your ID.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 04:27:02 AM PST

    •  Selective Service would just register the men. (0+ / 0-)

      Women don't have to register for Selective Service.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 05:16:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There should be automatic registration, but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lawrence, elmo, Mokurai

    it is not true that only U.S. citizens can get SSN cards.  My wife, for example is from Australia, she has a green card, is a "permenant resident alien", and she also got a SSN card that does not indicate her foriegner status.  (the kids think it is neat to tell their friends that their mother is an alien).  Still, there should be some way to have all citizens automatically registered to vote.

  •  Voter registration is automatic in Germany. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bepanda

    If the Germans, with their history, can organize sparkly clean elections in which it is easy to vote, then we sure the hell should be able to, as well.

    "A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle" - Mohammed Nabbous, R.I.P.

    by Lawrence on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 05:46:16 AM PST

  •  The Social Security Administration (0+ / 0-)

    does not necessarily keep up to date and accurate records about where everyone is...and that's entirely significant in determining where someone is eligible to vote. Don't forget: voting is also about state and local issues, not just national ones.

    There are a number of things that can be done to make voting easier. For one thing, a national law requiring every state to allow a minimum period of early voting.

    Here in Texas, when you get a driver's license or an I.D. in lieu of a license (and that's something nearly everyone needs to have these days), they automatically ask you if you want to register to vote, and if you do, they take care of it for you right then and there. That's a great idea.

  •  Add Paper Ballots (0+ / 0-)

    Add in paper ballots that would be mailed to each voter some time -- three weeks, maybe -- before the election for the voter to fill out, sign,  and either mail back or deliver to the local polling place to be scanned and tallied.  
    That would streamline the entire process and eliminate the temptation for minority parties to screw with the process to their advantage.

  •  You have the right idea, but (0+ / 0-)

    there are problems with your mechanism. We can certainly solve them, if we want to.

    Firstly, we should not do this primarily through Social Security. We should do it in schools, where we have people as they approach voting age, and where there can be little doubt of local residency. It would still be necessary to verify citizenship in some way. It might make sense to have an official registry of non-citizen residents, as a joint Federal-local resource. That would shut up some of the vote suppressors.

    Yes, we would have to make some use of the Social Security databases, particularly since newborns in the US are required to get Social Security numbers for reporting on their parents' income tax returns. But SSNs are not designed for tracking citizenship, and cannot easily be made suitable for the purpose.

    Legal immigrants with Green Cards and also illegal immigrants who work have SSNs. Some of those numbers are bogus, of course. Some citizens have no SSN.

    If we want to get serious about the issue, we need a new database supported by a number of new laws so that we can gather, verify, and disseminate the needed information. We need a way to register all births at the Federal level. We need a way to track name changes at the Federal level. We need a way to track address changes at the Federal level.

    We then need the Federal government to issue ID bearing birth dates that we declare by law acceptable in every state for every Federal election. It should be issued well before people reach voting age, so that there can be no doubt on the day. We can discuss whether this should be picture ID, or whether it should bear a fingerprint, or what.

    We would need to get the existing records from every local jurisdiction into that database. Something also needs to be done for citizens whose records are not available, whether due to fire and other disasters, government error, or intentional voter suppression.

    We also have to provide a way for people to opt out of inclusion in the database, even though that means that they will not be able to vote.

    Resistance to having a national ID system is still fierce in some places, both from the Left and from the Right. But we can discuss it.

    America—We built that!

    by Mokurai on Fri Nov 30, 2012 at 09:35:31 AM PST

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