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Compromise Looms on Voter Registration Bill

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Phil King has been talking to Democrats about a possible solution to the voter registration bill, which, in its original form, required voters to prove their citizenship in order to register to vote. This onerous requirement would have made it impossible in practice to conduct a voter registration drive, since most folks don’t have certified copies of birth certificates or a passport lying around their houses. King’s floor substitute shifts the burden of verifying citizenship to the Secretary of State’s office. Under a recent federal law that took effect on January 1 of this year, states must cross-check voter registration applications with social security and drivers license records. King’s proposal would add birth certificates and naturalization papers. If the voter’s citizenship still cannot be verified, the secretary of state would contact the appropriate local officials who would get in touch with the prospective voter to see if additional information is available.

The Democrats (Anchia, Gallego, Hochberg) are currently vetting the proposal. That may take awhile. There are still concerns that some people may run into problems–if they were born out of state, for example, or if they were born in unusual circumstances (for example, a midwife in a sparsely populated area who didn’t record a birth certificate). It’s not a done deal, but it is certainly a hopeful development on an issue that inspired passions on both sides. King has postponed the bill to the end of today’s calendar.

It’s premature to get all sappy about this, but every day, something happens to restore my faith that the underlying good will that used to prevail in the House of Representatives is returning. It would be wonderful to see this get worked out.

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