United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Post.

Voter registration. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on S. 352 and S. 472. Feb. 7, 8, and March 16, 1973 online

. (page 24 of 28)
Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on PostVoter registration. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on S. 352 and S. 472. Feb. 7, 8, and March 16, 1973 → online text (page 24 of 28)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of Dunn v. Blumsteiir, we had the residency problem, but we might
get into extraneous matters, if we adhere to that decision

Senator Brock. That is right.

The Chairman [continuing]. "y-N^iich was a Tennessee decision.

Senator Brock. That is right.

The Chairman, I wonder if you coulrl make any observations for
us in terms of that decision and its impact?


Senator Brock. I don't know whether it had a specific impact in the
past year of any measurable consequences. I think, what it has done,
in terms of this legishition, is to make this legishition even more
meaningful; because previously the enormous complexity of State
laws was one problem, but the residency requirements were something-
else again.

Well, I have been quite a while in politics. This is my 11th year in
Congress. One of the great frustrations I had was that people came
up to me and said: "Why can't I vote? I've just come to Tennessee
and I would like to vote for you." You know, that sort of warms the
cockles of my heart as I, of course, was very happy that they wanted
to do that. But they had left their j^revious State and had not been
in my State for a full year and, consequently, they could not vote in
either State. But that, I think, is a disenfranchisement of people who
are interested and concerned and could make a contribution to the
political process. That situation, I think, is simply intolerable.

Senator Fong. But is this bill going to correct it ?

Senator Brock. No ; but this bill, as a result of the decision in Dunn
V. Blwrnstehu is now a workable bill, because it does give these post
card forms out 45 da5'S before the registration place closes for State
elections, and because of that decision we now have the guarantee
that the adult who received that card is qualified to vote in that State.

Senator Fong. If he moves from one State to another State, he could
register if he meets the voting qualifications; but he would still have
to meet those qualifications.

Senator Brock. Yes; but we don't have the 1-year impediment, we
have a 30-day impediment. But this gives us 45 days, so that we
know that that will no longer be a factor in giving him the opportu-
nitv to vote. That is why I »m saying the Court's decision did not
really change the situation as to anything other than making this
bill workable in every sense of the word. I think, there is a greater
opportunity for this bill to be effective than there could have been
before. We could have still run up against that 1-year residency re-
quirement in my State and in a lot of others which would have made
it impossible for that individual to vote. But that is not true any

The Chairman. One of the objections that were voiced very strong-
ly a year ago concerned the antifraud procedures. Can you express
yourself further on that ?

Senator Brock. Yes, I would be delighted to do it. There are two
two or three protections in the bill, as it is written, against any fraud ;
but I would like to require some sort of a statement on the post card
with regard to prior registration.

The Chairman. I think, some States have that already; but we
need to make it consistent.

Senator Fong. Before we proceed, Mr. Chairman, the opposition is
not an important factor, because all the people have the same right
to vote. As was pointed out, many college people did not vote because
they were not registered ; but many educated ]')eople will not register.

The opposition ac:ainst the bill is that it Avill increase the opportu-
nity for fraud and duplication in the registration system. There would
be tremendous costs incurred, if we injected the Federal Govern-


ment into the States which used to have full power of their own with
respect to registration to vote. If we inject the Federal Government
into those systems, then the opposition is obvious and vre know the
reasons why.

Senator Brock. Senator, there is nobody in this House who has
a o-reater i-espect for the Senator from Hawaii than I have, and I
fully understand this concern. But I have been on the receiving end
of some damages that can be done by fraud. I have seen in my own
State people that today can go to county after county and register,
and we have had a case in my own community of a person who regi-
stered in seven counties and voted in all seven. Now, this bill is not
going to save us from that ; but I don't think it is going to make it
worse and, as a matter of fact, I think it can make it better, because
what we have done here is to say that, once we have some Federal
standards, if a person violates those, he will be prosecuted.

Senator Fong. What do you do with him ?

The Chairman. He probably gets elected. [Laughter.]

Senator Brock. I don't know whether his wife was a judge. I don't
really remember the details of the case, but as I recall it, he got off
with a reprimand or something like that. I'm not sure of the deposi-
tion of the case, but the magnitude of the crime would have war-
ranted a penalty, and he did not receive one, to the best of my

But the examples of this are just countless and, Senator, I could
cite to you a situation in my neighborhood — I am living half a mile
from the Georgia State line — ^where the people are great and strong
members of our party. And I can take you to people that have gone
down to register to some of those Georgia registrars' offices where
they have to register by party. When they walked in to register, they
said "we would like to register"' and the registrar said "fine" and he
pulled out the Democi-atic registration list ; but when they said "no,
Ave would like to register as Republicans,'' he said "no; we are out for

Now, this has happened so many times that I honestly cannot un-
derstand it ; and, if you want to talk about discrimination, I can show
you discrimination "in my own area that I have personal knowledge
of — which this bill vroukl help avoid. That is the kind of thing, I think,
we are getting at here.

I would like to be able to think of such fraud only as a potentiality,
but I know that such fraud exists now; and only Iby greater concern
on the part of the citizens through greater participation and greater
motivation can we really effectuate the rights of every citizen in this
country, in my opinion. I thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The Cptairmax. I have no additional questions at this time, but I
want to say that we certainly appreciate the personal experiences you
had with registrants, and we are trying hard to remove those impedi-
ments. Thank you very much.

Senator Brock. I think, it is a veiy constructive bill ; and I thank

The Chairman. Thank you very much.


[The aforementioned statistics follow :]

Gallup poll — August 6, 1971

If 42 percent of new voters vote : Percent

Nixon 35

Muskie 48

Nixon 38

Humphrey 42

Nixon 40

Lindsay 40

If 100 percent of new voters vote :

Nixon 39

Musliie 38

Nixon 39

Humphrey 3'J'

Nixon 41

Lindsay 33

How would unregistered 18-23-year-olds vote? (Gallup, August 1972)

Unregistered : Percent

Nixon 46

McGovern 43

Undecided H

Registered :

Nixon 41

McGovern ^"^

Undecided ^


|ln percent)

1948 1952 1956

Would have voted:

Democrat 82 52 28

Republican _ - - - - - 18 48 72

Nonvoters are not just poor and /or black (Gallup):
26 percent of whites unregistered.
26 percent college educated unregistered.
29 percent white collar workers unregistered.

Straight party vote — A thing of the past:

1968 — 27 percent identified themselves as Republican, 43 percent voted for
Nixon (Gallup poll).
The independents today comprise more than 30 percent of registered electorate.

Gallup poll — Voter registration:

Question: "Is pour name now recorded in the registration book of the precinct
or election district where you now live?"


(In percent]



Don't know

National - 72 26 2

Men - 73 25 2

Wome'n." - 70 28 2

Race: , _

White 72 26 2

Nonwhite.. - - - - 70 28 L

Education: -

College.. - .— - — - 72 26 2

High school.... - 71 28 1

Grade school 74 24 L

Occupation: . .

Professionals '9 ^0 \

White collar 70 29 1

Farmers . - - |0 18 ^

IVlanual -.- 65 33 i-

'l8to20years 7 91 2

21 to 29 years. - -. 50 48 l

30to49years 79 20 1

50 and over 86 ^3 i

Religion: „ -

Protestant. - - 72 ^6 f

Catholic -.-. 72 27 1

Jewish - -

Politics: _„ ,„ ,

Republican 79 19 f

Democrat. 75 ^4 i

Independent 63 ab ^

Region: ,

East ... '5 ^4 1

IVlidwest 79 19 2

South - 69 30 1

West - .- 60 37 J

Income: a? ic 1

$15,000 and over 83 16 1

$10,000 to $14,999 -. 74 24 L

$7,000 to $9,999 71 28 1

$5,000 to $6,999 65 33 l

$3,000 to $4,999 67 31 I

Under$3.000 69 29 l

Community size: to oo •?

1,000,000 and over 69 Z8 i

500,000 to 999,999 71 27 t

50,000 to 499,999 70 29 1

2,500 to 49,999 72 27 1

Under 2,500, rural 75 « 1

The Chairman. Our next witness is the Honorable Robert L. Hagan,
Acting Director of the Bureau of the Census, Social and Economic
Statistics Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.


Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the
committee and to discuss the position of the Bureau of the Census in
relation to the duties which would be placed on the Bureau by the
proposed voter registration legislation.

At the outset, I would like "to stress that my views are concerned
with the mission and role of the Bui-eau of the Census in relation to
the provisions of a voter registration administration which would be
established by enactment of either S. or)2 or S. J:72.

The Bureau of the Census is a general-purpose statistical agency,
that is, it collects statistical data on many diverse subjects from many
sources and reports the same in an objective and scientific manner.


This role is expressed in title 13, United States Code, and historically
the Bni'eau has performed only this role since its establishment in
1902. The success of any statistical agency in producing reliable data
is dependent upon many factors but of primary importance is the
attitude of the public toward the agency.

The success of the Bureau of the Census has stemmed from public
confidence in the Bureau's i-ecord for the imbiasecl scientific collection
and publication of statistical data. Placing the proposed voter regis-
tration administration within the Census Bureau, we believe, could
seriously impair that confidence, since the nature of many of the ad-
ministration's activities, we think, would be seen by many as insepa-
rably or inherently political.

The Bureau of the Census has always avoided programs, projects
or other activities which could lead the Bureau into the arena of
partisan politics. There are certain provisions in the legislation that,
we believe, would do just that. Illustrative is the provision contained
in section 405 of S. 472 authorizing the administration to make grants
to increase voter registration. As we see it, tliis provision is discretion-
ai'v, and the type of grant, which may be made to any State or political
subdivision thereof, is very broad. It is inevitable that a provision such
as this would lead the administration into partisan politics or give at
least the appearance thereof. For example, a grant for door-to-door
convassing may be seen as more advantageous to one political party
in a district than another. Likewise, a grant for expanded registration
hours and locations may benefit one party over another in a particular
State or district.

Similarly, the Census Bureau has sought to avoid programs or proj-
ects connected with regulatory functions, budgetary auditing, or evalu-
ations of compliance with laws. We believe these programs or projects
could impair the ability of the Bureau to obtain a full disclosure of
facts fi-om the public of needed data. The collection methods used by
the Bureau are iisually based upon voluntary responses to requests for
data. If the public were to generally regard the Bureau as another
Federal regulatory agency, we question whether the public would
freely and fully disclose data as is now the case. Illustrative of such
regulatory aspects of the legislation are those requiring the voter reg-
istration administi-ation to assist State officials in preventing fraudu-
lent registrations (section 407 of S. 352) ; making of grants for new
voter registration programs (section 405 of S. 472) ; processing of
grant applications and the auditing of such applications (section 409
of S. 472) ; and interpreting voter registration laws of the 50 States
(section 405 of S. 352) ; and section 407 of S. 472). The latter obliga-
tion of interpreting State law is a task especially far removed from
the Bureau's basic role.

Finally, there is one more point. T believe, that should be reiterated.
That is the possible cost of the legislation. As you may remember, the
General Accounting Office, at the request of Senator Kennedy, made
an estimate in the 92d Congress of the costs of a system of universal
voter registration similar to that proposed in the instant legislation.
These costs range between $191 million and $540 million in startup
costs, depending u[)on the Aolume of registration, and between $52
million and $134 million in ongoing costs. It is quite obvious that a
national voter registration program could be an expensive proposition.
The Chairman. Was that in the Kennedy bill ?


Mr. Hagan. These costs were in the record of the last Congress
liearing-s on this subject. These are the costs that were assessed in the
proposals of the hist Congress in a GAO study.

In suinmary, involvement of the Bui-eau in the electoral process,
either through a national voter registration or a grants program,
could lead Census into the arena of partisan politics. Likewise, in-
volvement of the Bureau in regulatory programs or projects is in-
compatible with the Bureau's data-collection methods and the role
of flie Bureau. Involvement in any partisan issues or in regulatory
])rograms, we believe, would have a deleterious effect on the excep-
tional sur\ey response rates, the reliability in the data collected, and the
jniblic acceptance and reliance uijon the data collected as being objec-
tive and scientific.

1 shall be glad to endeavor to answer any questions which the
committee may have.

The Chairman. The first question is based on the record of last
3'ear, where the Bureau of the Census was involved. [Reading].

Senator Foxg. Mr. Brown, what you are saying is that, if we impose this
resi)onsibiIity on you, you can do itV
Mr. Brown. Yes, sir.

And the Senator then asked him this second question :

Senator Fong. Would you estimate that this worlv would require some $30

Mr. Browx. a minimvim of $30 million.

These were two of the questions that were asked at that time.

Mr. Hagan. Yes, sir, I understand. I am aware of those statements,
and I concur with the responses of Dr. Brown of last year. I would
like to separate the two issues: one is the technical capability that the
Bureau might possess, which would be required to do a job like this —
this was the response that Dr. Brown was giving. Yes, the answers
are correct. "\Ve do possess the technical capability.

The Chairman. You could do it ?

Mr. HAfiAN. We could do it. Yes, sir. AVhat we are raising here is
a different issue. That is the impact of an activity of this type on our
statistical activities.

The Chairman. Let me ask you this second question : Do you be-
lieve that the process of registering voters would be a partisan
oi)eration ^

Mr. Hagan. I believe it would be so construed.

The Chairman. Who would construe it that way ?

Mr. Hagan. I think that the activities would lead to challenges
that would occur in such a way that the parent agency — the Bureau
of the Census — would be so identified with the "partisan'' arguments
that it would have the appearance of guilt in the public's eyes.

The Chairman. Would you have guilt ?

Mr. Hagan. We would certainly not condone it.

The Chairman. But you do not think you would be partisan?

Mr. Hagan. We would do everything we could, obviously, if we
were given this responsibility, to do it objectively and be non-partisan.

The Chairman. But the proposal would not be partisan.

jNIr. Hagan. The appearances are there, I think.

Tlie Chairman. This is what you think.

Mr. Hagan. That is correct.

The Chairman. But you say, as the Acting Director of the Bureau


of the Census, that this would not be a partisan approach.

Mr. Hagan. That is correct.

The Chairman. I think, that is important for the record.

Mr, Hagax. I would agree.

The Chairman. We are the ones who are responsible as to what
the people think ; and it is your task to execute any corrections needed
in the laws of Congress.

Mr. Hagan. That is correct.

The Chairman. And this is a detail of it. Now, you mentioned in
your statement, if I may quote this part of it :

We believe these programs or projects could impair the ability of the Bureau
to obtain a full disclosure of facts, from the public, of needed data. The collec-
tion methods used by the Bureau are usually based upon voluntary responses
to requests for data.

Is this your motivation or are you required to do this by law ?

Mr. Hagan. I don't quite understand your question, Senator.

The Chairman. Does the individual have a free choice not to answer
youi" question ?

Mr. Hagan. Yes ; in most of our surveys

Tlie Chairman. For the census ?

Mr. Hagan. No. Only the current survey operations are voluntary.
INIajor periodic censuses including the Decennial Census are taken
under legislative provisions that require the completion of a census

The Chairman. And the only mandate is what ? Do you get these
cards, the postcards, sent back to you under this pending bill. S. 3,52 ?

Mr, Hagan, Well. I wasn't i-ef erring to the disclosure on the post-
cards, but I was referring to the impact on the data which we collect
in our other ongoing surveys. These postcards would not be returned
to us.

The Chairman, It seems to me that you are proposing to take a giant
step into a beyond that does not exist! Your function under the law —
aside from the creation of the Voter Registration Commission within —
is a mechanical one, with the expertise that you have in dispensing
postcards by mail to the known residences of registrants throughout
the country ; period,

Mr, Hagan, Plus some other activities with regard to fraudulent
claims or complaints that may be raised.

The Chairman, And you go down to the Voter Registration Ad-

Mr, Hagan, AATiich would be part of the Bureau's organization.

The Chairman, But only at the request of a State — not to handle
all the questions. Only upon request and only where a State felt that
it might lose or had lost control or for some other reason requested

INIr, Hagan. That is true.

The Chairman, This would have nothing to do with the collection
of data in the census,

Mr. Hagan. That is clear.

The Chairman, It becomes your responsibility about fraud in cases
in which a State first solicited help. It is quite a diiferent thing from
the collection of data.

Mr. Hagan. I think, Ave are still not communicating, and what I
said Avas misinterpreted. We see the Voter Registration Administration


pursuing its own objectives, but within the oriranizational fi-ame-
work of the Bureau of the Census, as being a factor that would pos-
sibly impact and cause pi'oblenis in the data collection of our statistical
work, Senator. As I said before, the data collection would be associated
with the Voter Registration Administration, and we see it not simply
as-: a mechanical process.

The CiiAiRMAisr. I have just received and had handed to me a form
that was prepared, presumably, by the Bureau of the Census request-
ing information. This form is entitled "Cost of Living" — and there
are questions on here which are not cpiestions that we posed.

Mr. Hagan. I understand.

The Chairman. This form has no connection with this hearing. The
President announced a fi-eeze on prices, wages and rents for 90 days.
x\s to cost of living, it asks the Bureau of the Census to conduct a sur-
vey nationwide to find out how people have been affected by the freeze
and what their feelings are about it. It says on this form : "Did the
freeze keep you, or anyone living with you, from getting a pay
raise?" — and there are several checkmark places for the answer. I am
sure that you have received that inquiry form. Now, do you think that
that kind of inquiry — which you have already done — would be free
from any political purposes. If you were asked that question, or if the
Bureau would ask that question, would you associate it in any way,
good or bad, plus or minus, with anything political ?

]Mr. Hagax. I think, it is possible. Yes, sir.

The CiiAiRMAx. That you have already done. But now you tell us
that, if you simply mail out postcards, there will be those who say
you are taxing them with that cost in the community, and that there
might be some political purpose in collecting those statistics.

Sir. Hagax. I think there is.

The Chairman. Does that question cast a shadow over the Bureau
of the Census in any way ?

Mr. PIagan. We had some representations as to the nature of the
questions. Yes, sir.

The Chairman. Did it injure the Bureau in any meaningful way T

]Mr. Hagax. I think it was fairly close to the edge of w^hat the Bu-
reau of the Census should involve itself in.

The Chairman. Do you think any question miglit arise in regard
to mailing postcards with requests for registration privileges that
woidd even approach that?

Mr. Hagax. Again, it is the general appearance that would be
created by having the Voter Registration Administration's activities
identified as a part of the Bureau of the Census.

The Chairmax. Now. as to that question I read to you from the
Bureau, was that question required by law or statute ?

Mr. Hagax. No, sir. It was taken under the provision of legislation
which permits us to institute surveys.

The Chairmax. You were not required by law as to that ?

Mr. Hagax. No, sir.

The Chairman. So that, if a citizen wanted to point a finger at
you for asking partisan questions, you M'ould have to say it was your

^Ir. Hagan. That is correct. Senator.

The Chairjiax. Is there a difference between vour decision and a
mandate by law ?


Mr. Hagan. There certainly is.

The Chairman. Doesn't that immediately create quite a difference
in context?

Mr. Hagan. Obviously, we do whatever the legal requirements
placed on the Bureau would have us do.

The Chairman. I am addressing myself to your fear that somehow
some people might jump to the conclusion that you were interested in
partisan politics and that therefore your statistics would give cause
to being questioned.

Mr. Hagan. 1 still believe that could be true, sir.

The Chairman. And if that would be true — you have already done
it. You tell us not to register people now, because it might cast a
shadow over the Bureau. Yet, by your own decision, presumal^ly. you
raise the question now, and I don't object to that question, but I object
to your disputing in your own shop the difference between the question
that you compounded and that you polled the people on, which might
be consti-ued as partisan politics by some and a process that is man-
dated by law. Would you agree that there is a considerable difference ?

Mr. Hagan. I agree that there is a difference. Senator.

The Chairman. And for that reason I would actually very deeply
challenge the inuendo of youi' testimony to the effect that one reason
you would oppose this pending legislation would be that it might
cast some reflections over the objectivity of the Bureau. I think, it
would do much less than what you have already done; and I am in
favor of getting more statistics on f i-audulent evidence.

Mr. Hagan. I can see that, and I obviously agree with you on that
last point. I do see a difference, however, betAveen a statistical survey^
where perhaps there is a judgment made on the type of question and
the establishment of an ongoing program with complete identification,
on an ongoing basis, with the Bureau of the Census.

The Chairman. I'pon the request f I'om a State ?

Mr. Hagan. Yes, on the request of a State.

The (^HAiRMAN. Which is another objection that is not present in

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 24 26 27 28

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on PostVoter registration. Hearings, Ninety-third Congress, first session, on S. 352 and S. 472. Feb. 7, 8, and March 16, 1973 → online text (page 24 of 28)