- - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Democrats are poised to complement their celebration of diversity with an emphasis on indiscriminate inclusivity. Virginia voters on Nov. 8 might have unexpected company while they wait in line to perform their civic duty.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is restoring voting privileges to 13,000 felons who have completed their sentences. The governor, a best bud and longtime fundraiser for the Clintons, presumes that jailbirds of a feather flock together and won’t have any difficulty recognizing the plumage of their preferred candidate for president. Mr. McAuliffe had hoped to deliver the votes of all 200,000 felons for Hillary Clinton, but the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in April that the governor had overstepped his authority in attempting to do it all, and all at once, by executive decree.

Mr. McAuliffe has ordered election officials to send out voter registration forms to all former prisoners whom he attempted to make voters before the court’s ruling. Brushing aside Republican charges that he was doing the bidding of the Clintons, he vowed to continue wielding his signature throughout the fall. “We’re not going to waste any time arguing about the old Virginia way,” the governor, a transplanted Yankee, declared. Once the debt to society is paid, a felon should be entitled on application to be considered for the restoration of the vote. A debt paid is a debt paid. But the way the governor tried to do it gives added meaning to winning “by hook or by crook.”

In neighboring North Carolina, there seems to be trouble distinguishing between the quick and the dead. In 2008, a stunning 9,688 citizens aged 108 and older cast votes, though polling stations don’t stay open over the graveyard shift. During the 2012 voting cycle, 2,214 110-year-olds cast their ballots — 214 by mail and 2,000 at early voting locations, according to the Raleigh-based Civitas Institute. There must be something in the water. Two-thirds of those super-centennial ballots went Democratic. Coincidences abound, particularly in election years.

Election officials across the nation struggle to ensure that their voter rolls are up to date and that each citizen casting a ballot is in the here and now, not the hereafter. North Carolina’s voter identification law enacted in 2013 was meant to halt fraud, but a federal appeals court struck it down in July, saying the requirement to show an ID at the polling place was “passed with racially discriminatory intent.” The court didn’t bring up the importance of discriminating between the quick and the dead. Age, like politicians, has its privileges.

California has found a way to drive up voter participation. Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed the New Motor Voter Act last October that automatically registers individuals to vote when they obtain a driver’s license and — taking nondiscrimination up a notch — driver’s licenses are available to illegal immigrants. Technically, noncitizens aren’t eligible to vote, but the law decrees that one who does “shall be presumed to have acted with official authorization and is not guilty of fraudulently voting or attempting to vote, unless that person willfully votes or attempts to vote knowing that he or she is not entitled to vote.” A law that absolves violators from guilt goes one better than the “Hillary Defense,” which is that an “oops” is proof of innocence.

A survey by the Public Policy Institute showing unregistered California adults favoring the Democrats over the Republicans 49-22 percent leaves little doubt which party will reap the benefit of Gov. Brown’s fiat. Though 80 percent of Americans in a Gallup Poll favor voter ID laws meant to keep elections clean, the Democrats appear determined to leave no Clinton voter behind.

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