Republicans Outraged That Health Care Application Includes Legally-Required Voter Registration Effort

The latest conservative outrage is over a story in the Washington Examiner about how new Obamacare forms will ask citizens if they would like to register to vote:

The 61-page online Obamacare draft application for health care includes asking if the applicant wants to register to vote, raising the specter that pro-Obama groups being tapped to help Americans sign up for the program will also steer them to register with the Democratic Party.

On page 59, after numerous questions about the applicant’s identity and qualification for Obamacare, comes the question: “Would you like to register to vote?” The placement of the question could lead some to believe they have to register to vote to get health care.

The story has since been picked up by the Daily Caller, Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the number two Senate Republican, who tweeted, “How convenient! Register to vote while applying for Obamacare.”

It’s not only convenient; it’s also required by law.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as “Motor Voter,” requires public agencies that provide public assistance to offer voter registration opportunities. Nowhere are citizens told who to vote for, which party to register for, or even that they have to register at all.


Even if it weren’t legally required, do Republicans think it’s problematic to ask people if they’re registered to vote? A “founding father” of the modern conservative movement, Paul Weyrich, who co-founded the Heritage Foundation and Moral Majority, did actually argue in 1980 that “I don’t want everybody to vote.” In fact, he reasoned, “our leverage in the election quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” Are Republicans again trying to prevent more people from being registered to vote?

Over the past two years, GOP lawmakers have indeed worked in earnest to pass new voter suppression laws around the country, making it more difficult for minorities in particular to register to vote. The fact that they would object to federal forms complying with federal law because it might result in more people registered to vote falls squarely in line with the GOP’s recent trend on voting rights.