In the Chicago Tribune: “Apply background checks for gun purchases to voting”

Sep 11, 2017 | Featured

Dr. John Lott has another op-ed in the Chicago Tribune based on part of the testimony that he will be giving on Tuesday morning to President’s Commission on Voter Integrity in New Hampshire.  The piece in the Tribune starts this way:

Republicans worry about vote fraud. Democrats claim that Republicans are just imagining things. But in testimony Tuesday before the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, I will suggest a simple solution that could make both parties happy: Apply the background check system for gun purchases to voting.

Democrats have long lauded background checks on gun purchases as simple, accurate and in complete harmony with the Second Amendment right to own guns. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has bragged that the checks “make our communities and neighborhoods safer without in any way abridging rights or threatening a legitimate part of the American heritage.”

If Democrats really believe that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System doesn’t interfere “in any way” with people’s constitutional rights to own a gun, doesn’t it follow that the same system would not constitute an infringement on people’s right to vote? This would give Republicans a system for stopping vote fraud and Democrats a system that they have already vigorously endorsed.

The NICS system doesn’t just determine if potential gun buyers have criminal histories. It also checks whether a person is in this country illegally, has a nonimmigrant visa or has renounced his citizenship. Such people are not allowed to vote. The system doesn’t currently flag people who are on immigrant visas but who could be added to the system.

In 34 states, felons are not able to vote immediately upon release. The background-check system would detect these too.

Of course, Democrats and Republicans will continue to argue over whether illegal voting is a major problem.

Since Democrats believe that the NICS doesn’t in any way interfere with or suppress gun ownership, how could it suppress legal voter registration? Thus, Democrats shouldn’t have anything to worry about. If there doesn’t turn out to be any vote fraud, Democrats can say that they were proved right.

But it is likely that Democrats will take issue with the NICS once it is applied to something other than gun purchases. NICS requires government-issued photo IDs, and Democrats have vehemently opposed voter ID laws. Moreover, the fees that gun buyers have to pay on private transfers can be quite substantial, ranging from $55 in Oregon to $175 in Washington, D.C., and would be compared to poll taxes. Because of the Constitution’s 24th Amendment, the courts have struck down poll taxes as unconstitutional. . . .

The rest of the piece is available here.

The Kansas City Star already has an editorial attacking the idea.

The right people? You know, the eligible people, says John Lott, the president of the Pennsylvania-based Crime Prevention Research Center, whose plan would use the federal background check system for gun purchases on voters. That includes checks on whether a person is a U.S. citizen or has a felony conviction. Lott, who is a long-time opponent of gun control, argues that if background checks don’t limit the rights of gun owners, then they wouldn’t disenfranchise voters, either, would they? . . .

while the commission is in no danger of uncovering any such evidence, putting voters through a background check does sound like an efficient way to suppress the vote. . . .
The question is why will this background check suppress voters if it has no effect on discouraging people from being able to use guns for self-defense.
Regarding the laws stopping felons and non-citizens from voting, the National Conference of State Legislatures has these two discussions here and here.  Virtually no states provide any checks on whether a voter is a US citizen.  A total of 34 states ban felons from voting for at least some period of time while they are outside of prison.




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