Thursday, January 29, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Watch out for political time bomb

TomEliasW

By
From page A14 | December 09, 2012 |

A time bomb that could bring major changes to California politics has been set in place and is very likely to become explosive before the next presidential election.

Right now, Democrats are licking their chops over the potential benefits they expect from same-day voter registration, a practice that’s been allowed in nine other states and will become the norm here the year after the secretary of state, California’s top election official, certifies a new high-tech voter registration database. That will take several more years, but most likely will be done before the fall of 2016.

Same-day registration is a system hated just now by Republicans, who say it will invite fraud. That’s despite the fact that ballots cast by same-day registrants will be considered provisional, with election officials in all counties having until the end of the election canvassing period (about a month post-election) to determine whether new registrants were really eligible to vote.

Democrats believe the new system will provide them hundreds of thousands of new voters, perhaps enough to decisively control several swing districts created in the 2011 redistricting plan devised by the Citizens Redistricting Commission, which got its first test this fall.

They anticipate that myriad citizens who have been uninvolved and not interested enough in government to register to vote by the current deadline two weeks prior to Election Day will take heed at the last minute and go vote.

Republicans, meanwhile, see the practice as inviting illegal immigrants and shady sorts into the voting booth. For one example, they ascribe the 2008 election of Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota to “over 1,000 illegal Election Day registrations.” Franken won election by fewer votes than that.

The predicted effects of same-day registration are reminiscent of what so-called experts believed in 1976, when California OK’d unlimited voting by absentee ballot. Previously, absentee voters had to certify they were either too ill to vote in person or would be away on Election Day. The practice has grown to the extent that almost half of all ballots here this fall were cast by mail, with voters getting the chance to mark their ballots as they made up their minds proposition by proposition and candidate by candidate.

Republicans licked their chops at the prospect of all those absentee ballots, knowing they had always before dominated the smallish mail vote because the GOP has traditionally done better among high-wealth groups that travel a fair amount.

That’s how it went, too, for the first six years or so of unlimited absentees. Then Democrats learned how to stage ballot-marking parties and began to send absentee voter applications to targeted groups, many of whom were registered but didn’t vote very often. Gradually, Democrats began winning more and more mail votes, until these days they consistently take a majority of them statewide.

Might this work in reverse with same-day registration, with Republicans figuring out new ways to entice party sympathizers who don’t often vote to come out at the last moment? There’s every possibility for that.

A similar delayed reaction was already felt this fall from Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2011 signature on a bill allowing online voter registration for anyone who already has a signature on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Again, Republicans lamented potential fraud, as 22,000 persons registered by computer on the first day it was possible last September. By the registration deadline, almost 1 million new voters had been added to the rolls this way, mostly among people who found registering in person inconvenient.

Legislative Republicans voted against this step, but it may turn out to benefit the party in the long run, again because of that wealth factor: It takes a certain modicum of cash or credit to buy a computer and get online with it. That’s probably why most online polls taken without randomized sampling come out favoring the conservative side of whatever issue is up for question.

“If I wanted the ideal conditions for voter fraud, I would select the California laws for an A-plus,” said Steven Frank, conservative blogger and former head of the California Republican Assembly. “Will these new voters be verified? When they ask to be permanent absentee voters, will anyone ever check to see if these are real people? … All this has the potential to end honest elections.”

But just as no one could anticipate the eventual impact of unlimited absentee voting, no one can now be certain who will be the long-term beneficiary of the newly liberalized voting laws. It all depends on who comes up with the best system for taking advantage of the system to register and turn out voters who might lean their way.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at [email protected]

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Work continues to modernize Davis Healthcare Center

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

     
    Holman continues to educate and inspire

    By Daniella Tutino | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    ‘Huck’ and ‘Tom’ float old Arboretum dock to removal

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Teens arrested after midnight joyride

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Biologists: Raising California dam would harm salmon

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Overweight video game avatars ‘play’ worse than fit ones

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Meet the mayor for coffee at Peet’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Author joins radio show

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Make your own SoulCollage on Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Walk through Quail Ridge Reserve on Feb. 14

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Calling all chicken owners: Apply for coop crawl, share information

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Hopmans named associate vice provost for global affairs

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Review motivation to refresh your healthy-habits plan

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Tips to protect skin this winter

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    For health and healthy appearance, there’s just one quick fix

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Measles outbreak grows

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

     
    NAMI-Yolo examines inpatient services at potluck

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    .

    Forum

    Basement living, with attitude to match

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Can climate change bring us together?

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino coming to a vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    50 years since Ash Hall

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

    .

    Sports

    Pent up? Join Davis’ latest athletic event

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Two in a row for Devil boys

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Aggies still looking for record hoops win

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Blue Devil Hammond has a huge day at home

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD roundup: Aggie football players crack the books

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

     
    Youth roundup: Harper hoopsters off to hot start

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Treys send Toronto past Kings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

     
    .

    Features

    What’s happening

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

     
    College Corner: Have wanderlust? Go overseas for college

    By Jennifer Borenstein | From Page: A8

    District learns from bomb threat incident

    By Kellen Browning | From Page: A8

     
    It’s Girl Scout Cookie time!

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Feenstra-Fisher wedding

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Arts

    Acclaimed guitarist Adrian Legg to play at The Palms on Saturday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Show explores the evolution of dance

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    A rose by any other name — if there is one

    By Michael Lewis | From Page: A11

    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    James George Tingus

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, January 29, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B6