A discussion between Hillary Clinton’s campaign advisers about voter registration laws led to a remarkable quip made by John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman.
“On the picture ID, the one thing I have thought of in that space is that if you show up on Election Day with a driver’s license with a picture, attest that you are a citizen, you have a right to vote in federal elections,” said Podesta.
“If you show up on Election Day with a driver’s license with a picture, attest that you are a citizen, you have a right to vote in federal elections.”
The email was made public on Wednesday by WikiLeaks. Podesta’s Gmail was hacked and 50,000 emails sent to WikiLeaks, which has steadily been releasing the emails every day since Oct. 7.
The Feb. 4, 2015, email was part of a “chain” discussion that Podesta was having with top Democratic pollster Joel Benenson and several other Democratic advisers. The pow-wow of Clinton advisers and aides were discussing via email how to co-opt “voter ID,” which they admitted was a popular Republican policy of asking voters to produce ID at the polls.
Voter ID rules requiring a photo ID are used in 16 states. Another 15 states allow other forms of ID. Nineteen states and D.C. have no ID requirement.
Podesta’s reminder came after Benenson said the campaign “should think of high-tech solutions (i.e., everyone is issued a voter card with a chip when they turn 18) that embrace some form of universal citizen [sic] I’d linked [sic] to automatic registration.”
And in that context, Podesta’s remark came perilously close to suggesting U.S. residents could vote with a driver’s license — no need to complicate things by using databases that could check U.S. citizenship.
The issue is a hot topic among conservatives and Republicans. Permanent residents can get driver’s licenses and some could probably risk prosecution if they vote in federal elections. At least 1,000 non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2012 in eight Virginia localities, according to a report by the Public Interest Legal Foundation.
What has angered and concerned Republican officials and activists is the movement among liberal legislators across the nation to allow illegal aliens to also get driver’s licences. Conceivably, this would make registration of illegal aliens much easier, and would also allow them to use a real ID to vote.
Twelve states and the District of Columbia allow undocumented aliens to obtain a driver’s license, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, the NCSL says the licenses cannot be used for federal identification purposes.
Podesta’s odd quip will likely fan the flames for Republicans to make a strong case for checking voter rolls against immigration records, something Democrats have resisted in the past as unnecessary.