Sen. Jeff Clemens files bill to automatically register voters

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Senator Jeff Clemens has filed a bill that he believes will eliminate much of the controversy over voter registration by simply automatically registering eligible adults.

Senate Bill 234 will require the state to enact automatic voter registration when eligible U.S. citizens come of age by utilizing the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Currently, eligible citizens are asked if they wish to register to vote. Under Sen. Clemens’ bill, they will be automatically registered.

“The original purpose of the voter registration system was to disenfranchise women and African-Americans,” Clemens said. “It’s time we ditched the archaic scheme and realize that every adult American citizen should be automatically registered. There simply is no good reason to make people jump through hoops.” 

To protect the rights of those who do not wish to be registered, Clemens’ bill provides the opportunity for adults to opt out of the automatic registration.

By providing for an automated system of registration, Clemens hopes to ease the burden on election supervisors who have had to spend an inordinate amount of time verifying registrations, running voter registration drives and policing third-party registration groups. In 2012, more than 100 voter registrations turned in by third-party consultant Strategic Allied Consultants in Palm Beach County were flagged by the Supervisor of Elections as having similar-looking signatures, missing information and wrong addresses on the forms. The controversy spread across Florida and to several other states where SAC had gathered registrations.

Sen. Clemens said his bill is a good first step to eliminating this kind of potential fraud and ridding the state of unnecessary controversy over voter registration.

“We need to re-think our electoral system in Florida and solving our voter registration issues seems like a good place to start,” Clemens said.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.