Automatic voter registration (AVR) may sound obscure, but it’s a fast track to permanent Democrat power — so, naturally, activists are working around the clock to pass it in the states and Congress.
Modern elections are usually won by the party that turns out the bigger base. Left-wing strategists believe their victory hinges on astronomically high Democratic turnout. Whether that’s true or not matters less than their perception that it worked to oust President Donald Trump in 2020 and saved the left from catastrophe in the 2022 midterms, even when Republicans won the popular vote nationwide by a bigger percentage margin than Hillary Clinton won in 2016.
That’s what AVR is all about: bloating voter rolls to juice Democrat votes. It works because the left has spent close to a decade-and-a-half and untold billions of dollars building a get-out-the-vote machine that abuses IRS charity laws to win elections.
Under normal rules, eligible Americans must register to vote on their own initiative, usually at their county registrar or online through the state motor vehicle department. It’s a simple, fair thing to ask people to show an interest in voting and then verify their identity before they cast a ballot; that’s how our country has run elections for nearly 250 years.
AVR transforms that opt-in system into an opt-out mess by adding virtually everyone with a heartbeat to state voter rolls, instantly and dramatically expanding the pool of registered voters for the left to cynically tap into. Don’t want to be added to a publicly accessible list? Too bad — it’s on you to take the initiative to unregister, Democrats say.
How many voters are we talking about? 158 million ballots were cast in 2020. Yet Demos, the think tank of the far left and an AVR champion, estimates there are as many as 77 million eligible-but-unregistered individuals nationwide — folks who could lawfully vote but may not until they’re registered to vote in their respective states.
Not every one of them would support Democrats if registered, of course, but even winning a fraction would be enough to ensure Democratic presidential wins for a generation or longer.
That’s why AVR is supported by the Brennan Center, the origin of the left’s most odious election “reforms,” and the Center for American Progress, which boasted in 2018 that AVR could add 22 million newly registered voters nationwide in just its first year. Note that Minnesota’s recent election law includes AVR alongside “non-English voting materials” and the pre-registration of 16-year-olds to vote.
To hear leftists crow, you’d think the United States never ran a free election in centuries without AVR laws. The LGBT Movement Advancement Project, which dinks red states for their voter ID laws, considers AVR essential to the health of a state’s “democracy.”
AVR is needed “to save democracy,” according to the Daily Beast. Without it, America isn’t a “real democracy,” lies the extremist Center for Popular Democracy. FairVote, which also wants to replace the Electoral College with a national popular vote for president, considers AVR “good for American democracy.” Ditto Common Cause, GQ, and Project Vote.
Conservatives have been too shortsighted to pay attention, but leftists have been tapping this goldmine for years. Of the 23 states with AVR laws, only three are consistently run by Republicans: Georgia, West Virginia, and Alaska.
Michigan enacted AVR in 2018 after a lobbying campaign by the ACLU, Sierra Club, United Auto Workers, and socialist group Our Revolution. In my home state of Virginia, where legislators are capped on the number of bills they may introduce in a single session, Democrats made introducing AVR a top priority when they held total power in 2020. It passed on a partisan split.
Incoming congressional Democrats, fresh from retaking the House of Representatives in 2018, demanded Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, D–Calif., “expand automatic voter registration across the country” as part of their “upcoming democracy bill.”
They got their wish with the 2019 “Voting Rights Advancement Act,” then again with the 2021 “For the People Act” and “Automatic Voter Registration Act,” and most recently with the 2023 “Freedom to Vote Act.”
Recall that running elections and maintaining voter rolls are the duty of the states, not Uncle Sam, yet Democrats would force all 50 states to severely bloat their voter files. America’s voter rolls are already in bad shape, despite (mostly red) states’ best efforts to clean them up.
Georgia recently announced it removed 432,000 inactive voters from its rolls since 2021. Virginia removed 114,000 inactive voters in 2021; Oklahoma another 90,000 in 2019; Kentucky dropped 127,000 in 2023; Arkansas may remove 300,000 inactive voters this year; Pennsylvania dropped 180,000 in 2023; and Rhode Island removed another 60,000 inactive voters earlier this year. Texas and Mississippi are weighing bills that would allow them to more aggressively cull inactive voters from their rolls.
States are required by law to keep accurate voter files, to the left’s chagrin. Ohio, which culled 116,000 inactive voters from its rolls in 2021, knows best how much leftists loathe what they call “voter purges.” In 2017, then-attorney general Eric Holder tried to block Ohio from removing inactive voters as one of the last acts of the Obama administration — only to lose the next year in a landmark Supreme Court ruling.
The truth is obvious: Democrats don’t want accurate voter rolls; they want swollen voter rolls. Left-wing NPR admits as much.
This is bad election policy, and it isn’t cheap. Nevada’s AVR policy cost taxpayers $4.8 million to implement, plus more to maintain it.
It’s no surprise that the left’s big-money donors are in on the action. We’ve traced hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2017 to implementing AVR in the states from the Tides Foundation, Pierre Omidyar’s Democracy Fund, the Joyce Foundation (whose board once included then-Sen. Barack Obama), and the Carnegie Corporation. One six-figure Carnegie grant to the University of Southern California is even tagged for studying “the state-level impact of automatic voter registration … [on] the national Latino electorate.”
For Republicans, fighting AVR is a no-brainer. To the detriment of election integrity, Congress and the states have already made registering to vote and casting a ballot extremely easy. What we need are cleaner voter rolls and more secure elections, not a public subsidy for the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote machine.