House Dem Doesn’t Understand Why Voters Have to Register

Posted: Feb 17, 2015 2:02 AM

[Editor's note: The original copy of this article incorrectly identified Rep. Ellison as a Democrat from Wisconsin. The oversight has been corrected, and a formal apology has been sent to the people of Wisconsin.]

Forget about the Tuesday following the first Monday of November… Let’s just run an online poll for future public elections. Maybe we can set up a phone bank, kinda like PBS donation drives, for people without access to the internet. Heck, let’s just do a show of hands: Hillary or Jeb for 2016?

Okay, that might be a slight over-simplification of what Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) was suggesting, but it’s unfortunately not satirical enough to be correctly identified as a gross exaggeration of his professed beliefs. The Democrat who once said the government wasn’t broke (because there was plenty of private wealth it could confiscate) decried the fact that voters are expected to register.


While talking about the importance of “protecting voter rights”, the Democrat Representative pondered the importance of voter registration:

“Now I also think we need to make voting easier. It should be easier,” he said at the U.S. Vote Foundation’s Voting and Elections Summit. ”In other countries it’s easier. Why should voting be so difficult? Tuesday? Who thought that up?”

Okay. Would Wednesday afternoon work better for you, Keith? And what “other countries” are we talking about, exactly? Even the UN (not exactly an oasis of conservative thought) is stunned that the US doesn’t require more stringent ID requirements for voting. Generally speaking, with the growing popularity of mail-in ballots, the largest obstacle most Americans face while casting their ballot is finding a black or blue pen that actually works.

But, he wasn’t quite finished:

“I mean the fact is, is that there’s wide variation in when people can vote.”

Really? You can’t block out one afternoon every couple of years to weigh in on national and state politics? Someone can probably show you how to set a reminder in your iPhone.

“You can’t necessarily register to vote on Election Day.”

You’re right, Keith. I’m sure dead people in Chicago would love being able to register the same day.

“I’ve often asked myself why you should have to register to vote. Why shouldn’t it be automatic?”

Wait… He’s curious about “why you should have to register” before voting? I don’t mean to belittle his childish understanding of representative government, but aren’t we supposed to be concerned about the integrity of the voting process? (Oh, I forgot. He’s a Congressman. Integrity probably isn’t much of a concern.) I mean heck, we have to submit an email address to fill out most online public opinion polls, but we shouldn’t be expected to burden ourselves with the responsibility of telling government officials that we exist and intend to vote?

Of course, this is the same guy that believes voter ID laws are analogous to Jim Crow laws. He once tweeted:

“78% of Black men between 18 and 24 in WI do not have state issued photo ID. Wonder why Gov. Scott Walker pushed photo ID in WI?”

I actually saw that same study, and I’m a little skeptical. I find it hard to believe that 78 percent of black men between 18 and 24 (in the state of Wisconsin) don’t buy cigarettes, buy alcohol, open bank accounts, apply for jobs, have a PO box, receive housing assistance, rent an apartment, finance a car, drive a car, board airplanes, or use a debit/ credit card at check out. (This list is not comprehensive… What else am I missing?)

So, I guess in Keith Ellison’s ideal world, people would be allowed to wander into a polling place (at their convenience) and cast a ballot without being bothered to prove their identity, verify their residency, or provide authorities with documentation that credibly demonstrates their eligibility to vote. Why not just eliminate elections all together, and hold a Facebook opinion poll for public office?

Or is that level of identity verification too much of a burden, Congressman?