Proposed D.C. Bill Would Send Unregistered Voters Mail-In Ballots

DC's new bill Would let the city send mail-in votes to all eligible voters, even if they're not registered.

According to Bolts, "the city would use information it collects when residents engage with the DMV and other agencies to keep a constantly-updating list of persons who are 'preapproved' to vote," with the only work left to the listed individuals being "to vote come election time."

Under the proposed ordinance, "as long as someone has provided appropriate documentation, the city would verify and record them as eligible," the Bolts report said. “D.C. Would send people on the list a mail-in ballot for the next two years' elections. They wouldn't need to register DC. They would be told to return a ballot or go to the polls to activate their registration.

D.C. The bill's first public hearing is Friday, per Councilmember Charles Allen. In a statement to Bolts, Allen said voter registration "has been used to keep people from voting" and is "a way to be a gatekeeper as to who you think should be able to vote."

“Unlike other parts of the country where we’re seeing people try to restrict the ability of people to get to the polls and to vote … in D.C., we want everyone to be able to vote,” he added.

The U.S. Residents are asked by authorities like the DMV whether they want to be automatically registered to vote or opt out.

In a “back-end” AVR system, individuals “who provide documents indicating they are U.S. citizens are automatically registered to vote and are not asked any further questions while at the public agency; they later receive a mailer at home, and they can return it if they wish to opt-out,” while those who “do nothing at all… remain registered to vote.”

State "back-end" systems include Oregon, Colorado, and Alaska.

While Allen's bill wouldn't create a "back-end" system in D.C. Since it wouldn't necessarily register people, Bolts said, "it's up to public authorities to review someone's eligibility based on the information they've supplied."

Allen sponsored a 2021 bill to institute permanent, universal mail-in voting and a 2020 bill to allow jailed felons to vote.

The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on THE FEDERALIST.

Written by Staff Reports

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