The 1993 National Voter Registration Act — better known as the Motor Voter bill –requires that citizens be offered the opportunity to register to vote when they get a driver’s license or apply for social services. Voting rights groups — including Demos — filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was not in compliance, after a 35-year-old woman was not offered the chance to register to vote when she filed paperwork with the state’s welfare office last June. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, recognizing its obligation under federal law, settled the case out of court. As part of that settlement, the state government agreed to contact, by mail, the 477,944 welfare recipients who might also have been denied their right to be offered a chance to register to vote and give them that chance now.
Voting rights groups have brought similar suits in other states. But seizing on the fact that Warren’s daughter is chair of the board of one of the groups suing, Brown made the argument that this amounts to a conspiracy to elect his Democratic challenger. His statement today said:
I want every legal vote to count, but it’s outrageous to use taxpayer dollars to register welfare recipients as part of a special effort to boost one political party over another. This effort to sign up welfare recipients is being aided by Elizabeth Warren’s daughter and it’s clearly designed to benefit her mother’s political campaign. It means that I’m going to have to work that much harder to get out my pro-jobs, pro-free enterprise message.
It is surprising that a U.S. Senator would object to a state complying with federal law and attempting to remedy its mistake when it may not have done so. It is also surprising that Brown would, in effect, say that having more eligible welfare recipients registered to vote would automatically mean more votes for Warren.
Brown says on his campaign website that “Partisan bickering and political gamesmanship won’t help us save that America, and I refuse to participate.”
Elizabeth Warren’s campaign manager called Brown’s accusations “bizarre” noting “even the Bush Justice Department filed suit to enforce this provision of that law.”