Clemens files automatic voter registration billby Dara Kam | January 9th, 2013
Clemens’s proposal (SB 234) is one of a slew of bills filed by Democrats in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election where some voters, including some in Clemens’s home county of Palm Beach, waited in line up to eight hours to cast their ballots during early voting.
His proposal would require the state to automatically register eligible U.S. citizens when they reach age 18 using Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles driver’s license data.
“The original purpose of the voter registration system was to disenfranchise women and African-Americans,” Clemens said in a press release. “It’s time we ditched the archaic scheme and realize that every adult American citizen should be automatically registered. There simply is no good reason to make people jump through hoops.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney General Thomas Perez, the country’s leading civil rights prosecutor, also wants the country to join the majority of other democratic nations regarding voting by making the government – instead of the voter – responsible for signing up voters.
Clemens’s proposal gives adults the ability to opt out of getting registered, a twist on the current “Motor Voter” law that requires DHSMV workers to ask those applying for a driver’s license or state ID if they want to register to vote.
Clemens contends that automatic registration could help reduce fraud by third-party groups.
“In 2012, more than 100 voter registrations turned in by third-party consultant Strategic Allied Consultants in Palm Beach County were flagged by the Supervisor of Elections as having similar-looking signatures, missing information and wrong addresses on the forms. The controversy spread across Florida and to several other states where SAC had gathered registrations,” his press release reads.
PBC elections supervisor Susan Bucher was the first to flag possibly fraudulent voter registration forms submitted by SAC, a company hired by the Republican Party of Florida. The RPOF quickly fired the consultant, who had also worked for the Republican National Committee in other key battleground states.
Supervisors in at least six other Florida counties also tagged voter registration forms submitted by SAC.
House and Senate GOP legislative leaders as well as Gov. Rick Scott have pledged to address the long lines during the session that begins in March. The House and Senate Ethics and Elections Committees will hear from supervisors, including Bucher, on Monday and Tuesday.