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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 28 of 28)
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telling us the same thing, for whatever reason they have not been able
to attend to it since. And I have every confidence that if we appointed
a big commission, they would show up in another 18 months saying
they have not had time to do it yet. I do not understand that kind of
an allegation unless it is simply to stall for time, and I am afraid
I would have to fit it into that category.

Mr. DiNKiNS. I suggest and hold suspect many people who offer
reasons like that — talking about voter registration and election proc-
ess generally, who constantly say, "I believe the problem is one of
difference in philosophy in the first instance," because as long as a
person believes that it is supposed to be something that an individual
does all by himself, that the government has no obligation to make it
easy and convenient, then it follows that they would have these other
thoughts. But if we could ever persuade larger numbers of people
that it is in fact a government obligation to have voting easy and
convenient, then obviously we must have registration easy and
convenient.

In New York City, for instance — we must provide enough voting
machines so that there are not long lines. The New York Daily News
in an editorial lambasted me because I was in favor of mail regis-
tration, that people ought to be willing to wait in line to register, which
suggests that if I adopt their premise, then they are right, but I do
not. Our philosophy is different to start with. I think that is the
problem.

The Chairman. Off the record.

[Discussion off the record.]

The Chairman. Back on the record.

That is all the questions I have at this time. I want to assure you
we will be n\) there, and you can rub our nose in the realities of that
problem. Thank you very much.

Mr. DiNKiNS. Thank you very much.

The Chairman. Tlie next witness is Mr. Ben J. Wattenberg.



265

STATEMENT OF MR. BEN J. WATTENBERG, THE COALITION FOR A

DEMOCRATIC MAJORITY

Mr. Wattexberg. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for having me here.
I am honored to appear before you.

I am a writer on political and demographic subjects. I want to talk
this afternoon just briefly, however, about one specific aspect of the
voter registration issue with which I am gradually becoming more
and more familiar.

As you know, both of the major parties are involved in a reform-
ing project to broaden the base of participation, so I do not think any
comments are partisan. I would suggest that this problem of broaden-
ing the base of participation in the delegate selection procedure is a
very important work, particularly when you consider the fact that
the most recent Democratic nominee and the most recent-but-one Ke-
publican Presidential nominee are generally regarded in the political
community as neither representative nor responsive — not only to the
rank and file American voters — but not even to the rank and file in
their own parties.

In point of fact they were representative and responsive to only
fringes of their respective parties. As we saw in 1964 and 1972 — if you
will excuse my rephrasing an old slogan — the politics of the fringe
give us not a choice, but a landslide. One just shudders to think, given
this system, what might happen in our political system if in some
future Presidential election, perhaps in 1976, the Democrats did what
they did in 1972 in the same year that the Republicans did what they
did in 1964. I would suggest that this would be disastrous for our
political system. Yet all efforts at party reform are grievously handi-
capped by the situation that S. 352 is designed to help rectify — low
voter participation in primaries, caucuses, conventions and other proce-
dures in which party leaders are selected.

I am now serving on a task force of a new organization called the
Coalition for a Democratic Majority

The Chairmax. This is capital D or small D ?

Mr. Wattenberg. Capital D, sir. We are investigating the problem
of broadening the base of political participation. The root problem
that we face in this task force is how to construct a system to fully
represent so-called ordinary Americans, and how to avoid skewing the
system to give disproportionate weight to so-called activists and mili-
tants. And, I would add, to those at the far ends of the political
spectrum.

In short, how does one activate the center of a political spectrum?
One way that we have come upon in our deliberations is that of seeing
to it that "ordinary Americans" are registered to vote. And today,
as you know, largely because of the archaic and complicated registra-
tion laws throughout the States, it is Americans of the lower socio-
economic classes who are vastly underrepresented in the political
process. Demographically our voters are disproportionately drawn
from the ranks of the well-to-do, the highly educated and those in the
higher occupational categories. Politically, it is the activist and mili-
tant who are disproportionately registered. Conversely, it is the poor,
the black, the least educated, the blue collar citizens who are dispro-
portionately less likely to be registered. They are far less likely to be



266

registered than are the cause-oriented militants and activists from
either end of the party. ( See tables I-I V. )

So it seems to us that one way — not a total solution, but one ap-
proach — to help redress this balance is for the Congress to enact S. 352.
For the activists of the fringes, after all, are already registered. They
are ready to go. Any additional voters who would be drawn into the
system by S. 352 would tend in our judgment to come from nearer the
center of the political spectrum.

This change in the political composition of the electorate would,
I suggest, be felt immediately, whatever the structural reforms ulti-
mately adopted by the parties — whether they involve primaries, cau-
cuses, or State conventions.

In conclusion, we regard voter registration reform as highly impor-
tant to the political health of our party. It would help the parties do
what our system is supposed to do, which is to reflect the voice of
the people.

The Chairman. Let me say, Ben, that that is a very fascinating sug-
gestion that you have advanced here, one that has received virtually no
attention in terms of explaining the meaning of the bill and its con-
sequences. That is the broadening of the whole has in a centrist move-
ment, which would thus really apply very realistically likewise to both
political parties, whatever that designation may imply, and thus really
strengthen it as a — I was about to say a nonpartisan, which is probably
too extreme ; it is partisan but it is participatory partnership rather
than in the vernacular of one party.

Mr. Wattenberg. I view the real political action in our country, to
borrow the President's metaphor, as taking place between the two
35-yard lines of our political gridiron. What the passage of S. 352
would help to do is give more meaningful representation to the great
majority of Americans, be they Republican or Democrat, who regard
themselves not as fringe Eepublicans or fringe Democrats, but in the
broad center. I am submitting tables V and VI which indicate how low
a proportion of our eligible citizens participate in our primary elections
and caucus systems in some States.

I think your bill would bring people more into the system. No matter
what their participation would then yield in the primary, caucus or
convention systems within the individual States, it would make the
parties to some degree more democratic.

The Chairman. We will be interested in the full testimony when
you submit that, because this does pursue a point here that has not
received full enough treatment.

I am not going to hold you here longer because we have made you
wait much too long as it is, but I do want to thank you. Your experience
makes it much more than rhetoric or mere mimeographed testimony,
and your assessment of it in this unusual direction lends a new bit
of interest.

I want to thank you very much.

Mr. Wattenberg. Thank you, Senator.



267

[The aforementioned tables follow :]

Table I — Percent of eligible voters who are registered to vote by educational

level— 1968
Elementary : Percent

to 4 years 48. 5

5 to 7 years 63. 1

8 years 71. 7

High School :

1 to 3 years 68. 5

4 years 77. 8

College :

1 to 3 years 82. 9

4 years 86. 5

5 years or more 87. 9

(Source : U.S. Census Department.)

Table II — Percentage of eligible voters who are registered to vote by family

income level — 1968

Percent

Under $3000 65. 4

$3000 to $4999 66. 2

$5000 to $7499 72. 1

$7500 to $9999 78. 3

$10,000 to $14,999 82. 7

$15,000 and up 87. 8

(Source : U.S. Census Department.)



Table III — Eligible youth (18-24 who registered to vote)

College youth

Non-college youth

(Source : New York Times Survey — 1972.)



Percent
80
55



Table IV — Eligible workers who registered to vote by occupational classification



Blue collar

White collar

(Source : U.S. Department of Census — 1968.)



Percent
70

84



TABLE v.— DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY VOTE AS A PERCENTAGE OF DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL VOTE SELECTED

STATES— 1972



State





Average






Democratic




1972


presidential




Democratic


vote (1960




primary


1964, 1968,




vote '


1972)


Percent


29, 658


139, 799


21


1, 214, 839


2, 220, 090


54


88, 855


143,470


62


76, 834


1,384,333


6


617,756


1, 509, 351


41


1,212,330


1,916,720


63


1,374,839


2,414,922


56


37, 864


251, 966


15


28, 017


137, 095


21



District of Columbia.

Illinois _.

New Hampshire

New Jersey

Massachusetts

Ohio

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Dakota



1 Source: Congressional Quarterly.



268

TABLE VI.-DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS PARTICIPATION AS A PERCENTAGE OF DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL VOTE-
SELECTED STATES— 1972

Average

Democratic

1972 presidential

vote (1960,

1964, 1968,



State


participation!


1972)


Percent


Iowa .


35,000


563, 849

854, 430

205, 350

63, 692


6


Minnesota.. .


85,000


10


Maine


10,000


5


Nevada ,


4,000


6









1 Source: Democratic National Committee.

The Chairman. I am advised that is the last of the witness list
today. This, as far as we know, concludes a long series of witnesses
over now a period of last year and this year. We will close the hear-
ings subject to the receipt of the script testimony from the last wit-
ness.

We are also consulting with Senator Fong, and we have agreed to
have an executive meeting of the Post Office and Civil Service Com-
mittee on Thursday morning next, which all members will be ad-
vised of. I intend to propose a bill for mark-up that will reflect the
essence of the contributions in the course of these hearings. We have
had many constructive suggestions.

The committee hearing is adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 2:50 p.m. the hearing was adjourned.]

[The following statements were submitted for the record:]



269



STATEMENT OF ,■ . -
PATRICK J. NILAN, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR
AMERICAN POSTAL WORKERS UNION (AFL-CIO)
ON S. 352
PROPOSING TO ESTABLISH WITHIN THE BUREAU OF THE CENSUS A
VOTER REGISTRATION ADMINISTRATION FOR THE PURPOSE OF ADMINISTERING
A VOTER REGISTRATION PROGRAM THROUGH THE POSTAL SERVICE

BEFORE THE
SENATE POST OFFICE & CIVIL SERVICE COMMITTEE

MARCH 9, 1973



Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:

For the record, I am Patrick J. Nilan, National Legislative
Director of the American Postal Workers Union (AFL-CIO) with officers
at 817-14th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. I am very pleased to prer.ont
testimony in support of your bill, S. 352, Mr. Chairman, which goes n
long way in improving registration and voting rights of individuals.

We speak in behalf of more than 400,000 postal employees for
whom we are the Exclusive National Representative for labor-managcmont
relations and collective bargaining with the U.S. postal Service. Our
membership is employed in post offices in all 50 states, the District of
Columbia, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Guam.

Mr. chairman, the American Postal Workers Union (AFL-CIO) wir.hos
to take this opportunity to commend you for introducing S. 352 and zilr.o
express our approval of S. 472, introduced by Mr. Kennedy and co-t-ponsorod
by eleven of his colleagues, which provides for grants necessary in iin-



270



plementing and modernizing voter registration programs,

Mr. Chairman, a national registration and voting standards
act is long overdue, and adequate administration is absolutely neces-
sary if it is to be meaningful.

There are too many barriers in some states that have made it
difficult, if not impossible, for all of the people to exercise their
inherent right to vote for their public servants.

The American Postal Workers Union asks that you consider in-
corporating into S. 352 those provisions of S. 2574 introduced in 1971
by you Mr. Chairman, that would have established a 30-day residency
requirement for voting in all federal elections. It also provided fin-
ancial inducements to states for adopting the 30-day residency require-
ment and the postcard registration system.

As a union representing postal employees, we are particularly
pleased that the Postal Service has been singled out as the agency for
which the voter registration program is to be administered through.

The American Postal Workers Union has and will continue to en-
courage its members to become involved and engaged in registering the
unregistered eligible voters.

Mr. Chairman, on behalf of our organization and membership,
we wholeheartedly support S. 352 and your efforts to enact legislation
that is the key to making a great democracy like ours work.



271



federation of Viovernment Lmployees



American

AFFILIATED WITH THE AFL ClO ^^^^X^

CLYDE M. WEBBER DENNIS GARRISON DOUGLAS H. KERSHAW NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS

NATIONAL PRESIDENT EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT NATIONAL SECTREAS



1325 MASSACHUSETTS AVE.. N.W.
*************************** WASHINGTON D C 2000S

(202) 737-8700



* ♦



STATFMENT OF CLYDE M. WEBBER, NATIONAL PRESIDENT
AMmiCAN FEDHRATION OF GOVEtiNMSNT EMPLOYEES
BfTOHE THE SFNATE COMMITTEE ON POST OFFICE AND CIVIL
SraVICE, ON. S. 352, A BILL TO PHOVIDE FOR NATIONWIDE
VOTFii RBOISTRATION BY MAIL

MARCH 21, 1973

On behalf of the American Federation of Oovernment Bnployees, ^JL-CIO, I
would like to comment on ;;. 352, a Bill which •stablishee within the Bureau of
the Census a Voter Registration Adminiatration for the purpoaes of adjninistering
a voter registration program through the Postal Service.

The labor movement has for some time been very interested in standardizing
and modornizlng registration and voting laws. The AFOE, as an affiliate of the
AFL-CIO, has endorsed resolutlono and policy statements which sought the revision
of election laws and Federal standards for them as well.

While recent years have seen considerable improvement in the situation,
registration and voting requirements still present substantial barriers to
exercising the right to vote in many states. We view these barriers as both unfair
and undemocratic. Too often they have been deliberately designed to circumscribe
rather than expand the voting opportunities of American citizens,

A study, conducted by the League of Women Voters in 1971, entitled "Adminis-
trativfi Obstacles to Voting," shedo light on the problems of registration and
voting in American and suggests that there is indeed far more than apathy limiting
participation of our citizens in the electoral process. Based on 251 conimunitiea,
it concluded that in 52 per cent of the registration places the office wasn't
clearly marked, so that it was hard to find. In 77 per cent of the couBimnities,



272



th«ro was no Saturday refjistratlon in non-election months, and in 75 per cent,
no evening registration, forcing workers to take time off to register. ITiere
was no bilingual assistance where needed in 30 per cent of the corammities
surveyed.

Some states have made sincere efforts to clear away some of the obstacles
that have otood between citizens and the voting booth for years. But still, the
laws of many states and localities do not facilitate voter participation. It is
time, we believe, to address this problem systematically and con^jrehensivaly.
It is time to enact national registration and voting standards.

S. 352, introduced by Senator McQee, contains many important Inproveraents
in registration and voting. IMs Bill establishes a natiojial system of voter
registration for voting in presidential, senatorial and congressional elections,
administered by the "Voter Registration Administration" in the Bureau of tho
C-msus. Postcard registration forms will be delivered through the mail to each
postal address pre-addressed for mailing to the tpproprlate state or local
registration office. The Bill also provides financial inducements to the States
to adopt the postcard registration system. Fraud prevention teams will operate
in each state with the local election officials.

Unfortunately, S. 352 omits a provision contained in earlier Bills which
would have prohibited denying the right to vote in any Federal election to ai^rone
solely because the date of new residence took place recently. 'Riese provisions
sought to encourage the adoption of a residency requirement no longer than 30 days
for voting in state and Jx>cal elections. PVen if some legislators feel this is
too brief, perheps a period no longer than 60 days might have been accepted,
^ktending a residency requlroruent of no more than 30 days, or alternatively 60
days, to Federal elections, and providing financial assistance to states which
bring their registration and voting laws into line with the Federal residency
requirements would make sure that the franchise is broadened for many Uho would



273



like to vote but may be unable to do 30 solely because of a recent change of
residence .

In addition, we feel the time has come to scrutinize absentee registration
and voting restrictions. Currently, some states have different standards for
both Federal and state elections. We believe it would promote political democracy
and maturity to institute uniform standards regarding absentee registration and
voting,

J\irthermore, there is also a need to inprove cxirrent adninistrative practices,
particularly in record-keeping and the printing of election data, which, in the
«nd, could assist in minimizing the possibility of voter fraud.

We are hopeful that this national voter registration proposal will become
law. It is our opinion that if left to individual state action, the reforms they
enact will still lack unifonnity. Registration is a national problem and it can
best be solved by national initiative. It is our opinion that if one provides a
sljiple method for the citizens of this country to become registered, they will be
able to respond both by registering and by exercising their most basic constitutional
prerogative: to vote on Election Day,

In conclusion, I wish to fully endorse the views expressed by the AFL-CID
In their statements of Pbbruary 8, 1973* on this subject.



^



ERAL BOOKBINOINO CO.



,. ^''^■'^' ,, "I P anA-i



jliiiai^

3 9999 05445 284U





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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 28 of 28)