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

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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 25 of 28)
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your normal procedures.

Mr. Ha(;an. That is true.

The Chairman. It seems to ]ne, that has been removed by at least
two joint steps. I would think that your suggestion was made ratlier
l)ointed1y. if not unfairly, about political actions.

Mr. Hagan. I defer to your opinion; but I still have my own,

The Chairman. Wliy don't you respect the other people's opinions,
too, which you don't know or which you don't know anything about?
You don't even knoAv how to measure the question that you yourself
introduced in your own census survey. By tliis question, l)y this proce-
dure here that is mandated by law, you undeiniine your own case and
your own petition in that regard.

I have one other question here, because this came up tliis morning,
in regard to the Bureau of the Census' study of 10()8 — it actually was
made before then, but it was published in 19GS; and that question is
why those uni-egistered ])ersons did not register — and, I take it. you
are familiar with that ? You have seen that cliai't ?

Mr. Ha(;an. ^''es, sir. 1 have a coj)y of that chart.

The Chairman. The suggestion was made that in that group of 60
million people who did not vote oi- did not i-egister ;>'>.-> percent were


not inteivsted; 11.2 percent could not \ote because tlie i-esidency
]-equirenients were not satisfied — and on most cases, if not the latest,
we have court decisions; those who were unal)le to register were in-
dicated as l?iA percent, and "'unable to re<»ister" was their reason for
not voting. If we accept that reason ''not interested," are we on i-eason-
ably sound ground to accept it as a lack of motivation, like in those
who said they were unable to register ?

Mr. Hagax, Yes, sir.

The Chairman. What would that l^.-l percent figure suggest in
tei'ms of numbers ?

Mr. Hagan. The 13.4 percent relates to an expanded figure from a
50,()()0-household sample, taken to reflect the national total.

The Chairman. All right.

Mr. Hagan. The nmnber of people which that figure of 13.4 percent
repr-esents is 3,602,000 people.

The Chairman. All things being equal here, would you consider the
registration of 3,602,000 people as a survival possibility of our sys-
tem as to manpower cost and the entire mechanism '( Does that occur
to you as an acceptable figure '?

Mr. Hagan. As an acceptable goal.

The Chairman. But if we take this last election, this figure would
be higher. Was it 58 or 60 million people who did not vote ^

Mr. Hagan. The figure we reported was 50 million people that did
not \'ote.

The CiiAiRiiAN. And. out of that 50 million class, how many were
not registered ( Do you have an indication of that ?

Mr, Hagan. Let me read to you the total which appears in our ad-
vance report of the 1972 survey. The total wliich we have for all
persons in the ''Potential Number of Voters" is 136 million. Of that
total, 98.5 million reported that they were registered; of that total,
85.8 million people reported that they voted; and there were 37.7
million who reported that they were not registered These figures
are contained in our series P-20 Report No. 244.

The Chairman. Thank you for giving us that information. Xoav,
in that 53w2-percent category of that same survey, were any questions
asked there of that group as to why they were not interested ?

Mr. Hagan. Yes, sir. They were given a range of res]3onses: and I
refer you to the text of that report on page 6, under "Reasons AVhy
Not Registered". We had the following categoi'ies for recording' the
responses that a person was not registered to vote. Those categories
Avere : "Not a citizen of the United States", "Had not lived here long
enough to be qualified to vote", "Not interested", "just never got
around to it", or "Dislike politics", et cetera. I might say that there
were several types of entries, and, I think, that is a more pertinent
answer to 3^our question.

Tlie Chairman. Was any effort made to separate the difference be-
tween a citizen who was not interested in traveling from subui-bs to
the citv hall or to the county clerk's office, and who was not interested
in registering on those terms or because he Avas not interested in

voting ?

Mr. Hagan. Not to mv kno-i^'Vdge.

Tlie Chairjian. Is it conceivable ?

Mr. Hagan. I don't think so.

The Chairman. Is it conceivable that those two could have been
mixed or that both would have been present ?


Mr. Hagax. I would say that it is conceivable. Yes, sir.
The Chairman. Is it likely?
Mr. Hagan. Probably.

The Chairman. What we arrive at here is a necessary conclusion
that even the b'6 percent that you have been talking about for li/^
years does not actually and truly represent or reflect the consequences
which registration inconveniences might represent.

Mr. Hagan. Well, I don't think that any survey accomplishes all
results that potential users would want.

The CHAffiMAx. What are the omissions from that 53 percent ?
Mr. Hagan. I could say that there are probably other omissions,

The Chairsiax. In that 53-percent figure?

Mr. Hagax (continuing). We could do much more detailed study
of that type response.

The Chairman. We need to do that.

Mr. Hagan. I think it is well to point out at this point these ques-
tions wei'e limited to the resources of the research or survey activity
of which it was a part.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Hagan. This data was collected as a supplement to our regular
monthly employment/unemployment survey. It was not a survey de-
signed specifically to collect this kind of information, as the primary

The Chairman. If there is a reason for its being used, it ought to be
used less recklessly, if it is to be valid.

Mr. Hagan. That is a valid statement about the use of any statistic.
Senator. We do, in our text and our presentation of our report, state
clearly the validity of the data, however, the figures are used in many
different ways.

The Chairman. I recall here what Mark Twain said about statistics
and as to their use. At least sometimes it is very important that we
make statistics, that often are so recklessly used, as meaningful as pos-
sible by at least suggesting some reasonable doubt about the validity of
a blind figure of 53 percent from which some people might conclude
that all of the 53 percent of people did not vote because they were not
interested enough in voting — which would l)e stretching it a little bit.

Well, I shall not pursue that at greater length. I did have one ques-
tion about the cost factor that you injected. We have two copies of your
remarks liere this morning in preparation for this hearing. The second
batch of the copies that just arrived shows, at the top of page 4, an
astronomical cost figure, which range of costs you submitted.

Mr. Hagan. One paragraph was inadvertently left out of the earlier

The Chairman. It was inadvertently left out ?

Mr. Hagan. Yes, sir; it was inadvertently left out in the typing and

The Chairman. ^Miich of these two approaches pending here as
S. 352 and S. 472 would, in your view, cost less?

Mr. Hagan. Based on my knowledge as of the present time, I would
have to state that S. 352 would cost less.

The Chairman. Much less?

Mr. Ha(jan. Considerably, but I aui not in a position really to


The Chairman. The figures in your paragraph that refers to the
startup costs, ranging from $191 to $540 million, were addressed to
which ?

Mr. Hagan. Well, specifically neither of the two proposals. This -was
repeating a fact that was stated in the report of the last Congress on
general overall costs of the systems contemplated at that time.

The Chairman. Yes.

Mr. Hagan. There are some similarities, but they are not identical.
But those costs are pertinent, in the sense that they are an overall cost

The Chairman. The bill, of course, sees it that way; but we don't
pretend to define the process, as it is highly technical; and I would
assume that, whatever the large figure may be, it would be the startup
costs — not the ongoing costs. Is that correct ?

Mr. Hagan. Yes ; the ongoing costs would be obviously lower and,
I think, that was also mentioned.

The Chairman. All right ; that is all the time I will take for ques-
tions at this time. I appreciate your making yourself available at this
time for this confrontation, because we generally seek professional
expertise that would be responsible for grinding out this process;
it does make a difference as to capability. We are grateful to you for
being here and for doing so this morning.

Mr, Hagan. Thank you, Senator.

The Chairman. The next witness this morning is the Honorable
Gloria Schaffer, the secretary of state of the State of Connecticut.
We welcome you.



Ms. Schaffer. Senator McGee, I welcome this opportunity of testi-
fying before this committee on a matter of such great public concern
as reflected in your bill S. 352. There is a need for delivering our elec-
toral processes from partisan politics and similar problems.

The Chairman. Before we go into any questions, may we have your
statement first?

Ms. Schaffer. Many studies have identified and brought to the at-
tention of the public the impediments and apathy that exist with re-
spect to our voting rights. I commend organizations such as the Ford
Foundation, the League of Women Voters, and the National Municipal
League for their accomplishments in this regard.

Those of us who are engaged in the work of election administrations
are quite familiar with these obstacles. The statements made about the
most recent election of 1972 have pointed out the problems we have.
I would like to suggest that the basic and uniform rights of all U.S.
citizens can be effectively implemented by a single source, the U.S.
Congress, which can be reaffirmed by the States.

The obstructions in the exercise of our voting rights are not only
found on the Federal level but they are integrally connected with elec-
tion processes on the State and local levels. The Congress should, in
my opinion, adopt a very broad apj^roach to this problem wherever
Federal, State, or local voting procedures do not conform to congres-
sional or statutory provisions.

91-577 O — 73 17


Of the problems we had under the Federal Voting Rights Act of
1970, we had a good case in court. Under this act, the States had no
uniform approach, and guidance from the Federal Government and
particularly from the Department of Justice was minimal.

There were no federally prescribed or recommended forms for ap-
plications for Federal ballots. Some States failed to enact enabling
legislation and therefore could not, and did not, comply with many pro-
visions under the Voting Rights Act. There were no adequate safe-
guards for the prevention of dual voting in many States, as well as
other frauds.

la my own State, the State of Connecticut, we required that Presi-
dential election applications be notarized, if they were to be valid. But
this proved to be an impediment in insurance against frauds. The only
proof needed is the most recent Federal election of 1972, with its
low percentage of voters, to show that the disenf ranchisement of Amer-
ican citizens was a failure.

The Chairman. Because the notarizing was required?
Ms. ScHAFi^ER. Yes; I would say that the threat of perjury then
would make it an even more serious offense.
The Chairman. That is right.

Ms. ScHAFFER. Federal legislation which can affect only Federal
elections could create chaos in some States. For example, in my o^yn
State of Connecticut, the constitution prohibits absentee voter regis-
tration for non-armed-services personnel. Thus, Federal absentee voter
registration would require dual registration lists; and such a proce-
dure would also be likely to result in confusion among voters who
might be qualified to vote only in Federal elections.

Perhaps a solution to this problem can be found in an amendment
to the Federal Constitution which will empower the Congress to guar-
antee this fundamental right of citizenship, thereby assuring this right
to all.

I would like to think that perhaps an amendment to the Constitu-
tion might prevent frauds in elections. Nevertheless, I must confess
that I initially approached the idea of an amendment to the Federal
Constitution with grave misgivings. The electoral system has been, is
now, and, in my opinion, should remain, within the control of the
several States.

However, I have come to realize that the selection of candidates
for public office and the conduct of elections and the administrative
procedures which implement the right to vote are totally separate and
distinct from the right itself. The administrative machinery for the
exercise of the right should remain with the States, but the virtually
automatic acquisition of the right by our citizens should be a matter
of constitutional mandate.

Only our Federal Constitution can effectively complete the transi-
tion of the status of the vote from that of privilege to that of an
inalienable right.

I would respectfully suggest to the members of this committee that
a multilevel committee composed of Federal, State, and municipal
administrators and legislators be formed for the purpose of prepar-
ing a draft of a constitutional amendment. The broad outline of such
an amendment should insure that each citizen of the United States,
at least 18 years of age and a bona fide resident of a political sub-


division of a State is given the right to vote in all public elections,
Federal, State, and local, with no or only minimal preconditions.

For example, such an amendment could affirmatively recite this
right of each qualified citizen and empower Congress to enact legis-
lation to insure its implementation. Such amendment must reaffirm
the rights of the States to conduct and administer all elections. Ena-
bling legislation might then prescribe a uniform registration system
or a series of alternatives, such as :

(1) Not requiring registration as a precondition to voting (as
in North Dakota) ; (2) Requiring public officials to assume the
initiative for registration (as in the Canadian system) ; and (3)
Or providing for any broad system, or systems, of registration,
with postcard absentee- registration as one of said systems.
An affirmative constitutional definition recognizing this basic right
of all citizens could overcome the confusion based on the lack of
clarity which in recent years has given rise to litigation, Supreme
Court decisions and hurriedly enacted legislation and constitutional
amendments to avert catastrophic situations. Again, I cite the voting-
rights legislation — its unconstitutionality in part — the temporary cri-
sis which was caused by the Federal imposition of the dual age vote
which fortunately was followed by the ratification of the 26th amend-
ment to the Federal Constitution.

Federal incentive programs, such as proposed in the McGee bill,
are a major step forward. Financial incentives to increase all methods
of voter-registration activities, to train election officials, to modernize
our methods of administration, and to tighten procedures to guard
against fraud and dual registration can be important stimuli in
building a stronger elections system on all levels of government.

However, it must be recognized that notwithstanding what Federal
legislation may be enacted, there are and will continue to be State
impediments to voter enfranchisement created by States' constitu-
tional and statutory provisions, unless the Federal Constitution is

The existing roadblocks to the easy acquisition of the franchise can
be overcome. State and local officials should remain the administrators
and implementors of election laws, and none of their powers should
be diminished. They should be assisted by model legislation to provide
uniformity of recognized procedures.

The discussions at the recent Secretary of States Conference in
New Orleans clearly articulated the fact that no one and no unit of
government stands alone. I know I speak for the National Association
of Secretaries of State in saying that we share your goals and con-
cerns. Working together, we will realize our mutual goal of full politi-
cal rights for all our citizens and open what is now a closed voting
booth to many millions of Americans.

The Chairman. We genuinely appreciate your concern and sug-
gestions, in trying to help us solve this problem, and your willingness
to take the time to share your State's and your own experiences and
expertise with us, and I went to raise only one or two questions which
you might help us answer.

On this question of dual-registration lists, what would be the prob-
lem if you had only one registration list, on which those that are
Federal voters would be marked by a star or any other symbol? Is
that not possible ?


Ms. ScHAFFER. It is possible, but it is cumbersome ; and if we get
down to the basic philosophy underlying it — on which, I think, you
agree — which is really that the people have the right to vote in every
election, and there is no reason why this cannot be articulated on a
Federal basis.

The Chairman. Yes.

Ms. ScHAFFER. The bookkeeping problems that this would entail,
I am never scared of as a difficulty.

The Chairman. Yes.

Ms. ScHAFFER. I do think, hoAvever, that an important factor is the
confusion in the voters' minds, and this very often can act as a deter-
rent in getting people to vote. People did not understand this Presi-
dential-election-only ballot, and we had difficulty in explaining that
to them.

The Chairman. One of our concerns were the prerogatives of State

Ms. Schaffer. I appreciate that, but the more important aspect is
whether an individual's right to participate in his own society's mat-
ters is affected — and that is what this is aiming at.

The Chairman. Yes, and that would have to be far broader than it
is at the moment to make it more encompassing ; and we ought to get
started on that, too. I would be reluctant to say we could do it all at one
time by a constitutional amendment ; but we ought to get a voting sys-
tem underway that would make the voting process much less onerous
for the people.

Ms. Schaffer. I would never suggest that we wait for the imple-
mentations of a constitutional amendment and I think we ought to get
busy on it right now.

The Chairman. The processing of a constitutional amendment is an
extremely lengthy one, and it may require from 2 to 7 years for stipu-
lations and ratifications, because it has to be ratified by three- fourths of
the States. It is something that is as disturbing as the women's rights
bill and its being stalled.

Ms. Schaffer. But we got the 18-year-olds amendment.

The Chairman. Well, that was a very elementary type of thing; and
that was expedited. I would just like to mention one more point in re-
gard to the constitutional approach on a constitutional issue. It was
drafted last year and typed and approved this year, and it was sub-
mitted to our rather distinguished colleague of the Yale Law School,
Professor Bickler; and his conclusion was that there would be no
serious question about the constitutionality of the bill.

Now, that is rather significant, coming from Professor Bickler. He
thought that the 18-year-olds were under the voting age and that
therefore the bill was not constitutional. Considering his conservative
attitude on that constitutional amendment, it is significant that he was
willing to contribute during the hearings of last year on this point.

Ms. Schaffer. I would feel, and I say, that there is no question as
to the constitutionality of your approach, and we should have more re-
ports along this line.

The Chairman. You want to hear more about it ?

Ms. Schaffer. What we really are talking about is general enfranch-
isement ; but I don't think that we can really achieve that for all elec-
tions, unless we get a constitutional amendment. But, until that is pos-


sible, I think that your approach here is very useful and will be truly
significant in our attempt to get millions of people to register.

The Chairman. Yes.

Ms. ScHAFFER. But, I think, the States will be slow in this work, and
I don't think there will be uniform elections without an overall Federal

The Chairman. Again, I thank you very much for sharing your
views with us. I understand that you are trying to catch a plane?


The Chairman. We are recessing the hearing at this time ; and let me
say to the three remaining witnesses that we are taking a short break
now for lunch, and we shall resume this hearing and reassemble in this
room 6202 at 2 o'clock this afternoon.

(Thereupon, at 12:45 p.m. the hearing was recessed until 2 p.m.
of the same day, March 16, 1973.)

afternoon session

The Chairman. Is Mrs. Padilla here ? I wonder if you would care to
begin the testimony, and that way we will not delay things unduly.
I am sorry to have to spill over to this afternoon.


Mrs. Padilla. I have copies of material I would like to present to you
at this time that I will present during my testimony.

The Chairsian. We will accept them for the files. You may proceed
to read your statement, if you will,

Mrs. Padilla. I am grateful for the opportunity to testify before
your committee so as to express our views on your proposed legislation.
I am not an expert but can share with you some practical problems of
people wanting to register.

Mr. Chairman, voter registration is a subject that all Americans
should be concerned about, and farmworkers are no different. We, of
the farmworkers, are looking closely at legislation being considered by
the Congress because our experience, as politically weak members of
our Nation, proves to us that we cannot continue to depend on differ-
ent registration procedures of the various State governments.

To both migrant and nonmigrant farmworkers, it is only the Federal
Government which too often provides social and political relief. We
have to continue looking to the Federal Government for help so long as
capricious local and state governments attempt to frustrate our efforts
at joining the mainstream of the American political life.

I must say I am not an expert on voter registration. My experience
in registration is not as sophisticated as same.

I wish to cite a dramatic example of why we need a simplified regis-
tration procedure that would make the ballot box equally accessible to-
all citizens.

Farmworkers and other citizens in Arizona have been working dur-
ing the past year to increase voter registration. This effort has been
stimulated by a special recall election for the office of Governor. Fol-
lowing last November's general election, the county recorder for Mari-
copa County — ^the largest county in Arizona — interpreted the State law
to mean that he could refuse to recognize the almost 3,000 deputy reg-


istrars who had been successfully registering voters who had previous-
ly not been involved in their political life.

Thereafter, the Democratic county chairman submitted a list of de-
puty registrars — which by State law and custom had, in prior years,
simply been accepted and duly certified as deputy registrars. This
time, however, the county recorder refused to accept the Democratic
chairman's recommendations and proceeded to set up a new testing pro-
cedure that clearly was intended to place obstacles in the path of farm-
workers and other citizens seeking to become registered voters.

I present that test to you.

The Chairman. We have a copy of it.

Mrs. Padilla. A lawsuit, which you have a copy of, was then filed
and after prolonged litigation, the county recorder was told by the
Superior Court and the Supreme Court — by the way, this morning
the Supreme Court upheld that decision — that he could not continue
using the test calculated to frustrate voter registration efforts.

The people were taken by our organizer in Arizona to the county
recorder's office there and he refused to give them the material over
the counter. In fact, he told them he would mail the material second
class to them, which would take another 10 days to arrive.

The Chairman. Second class was significant^ — it corresponded to
the way they had been treated as second-class citizens.

Mrs. Padilla. Exactly. This legalistic and exhausting series of
events by the county recorder demonstrates to us that we cannot long
continue to fight at every county recorder's whim. We even had to

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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 25 of 28)