The office of the governor said in a press release on 19 September that Pennsylvanians “who are obtaining new or renewed driver licenses and ID cards and are eligible to vote will be automatically taken through the voter registration application process unless they opt out of doing so”.
“Pennsylvania is at it again! The Radical Left Governor, Josh Shapiro, has just announced a switch to Automatic Voter Registration, a disaster for the Election of Republicans, including your favorite President, ME!” Mr Trump wrote just after midnight on Sunday.
“This is a totally Unconstitutional Act, and must be met harshly by Republican Leadership in Washington and Pennsylvania. Likewise, the RNC, and Ronna McDaniel, must spend their time working on this, instead of meaningless Debates where I am up by more than 50 points,” he added before launching into his mocking nicknames for his GOP primary rivals.
“Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, Arizona, Wisconsin, and others, are far more important than ‘Aida,’ Sloppy Chris, Lyin’ Mike Pence, Nikki ‘Birdbrain’ Haley, Ron (’Dead Campaign’) DeSanctimonious, and the others. Start suing now, & get the right lawyers this time! The Pennsylvania Republican Party must likewise not let this happen,” the former president wrote. “It will be a disaster for our Nation, which is being destroyed by these Lunatics, Marxists, & Fascists, whose only real ability is to CHEAT on Elections. MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
Twenty-four states and Washington, DC have now adopted automatic voter registration (AVR). Eight years ago, the practice didn’t exist in the US, a country with a very low voter turnout compared to other advanced democracies.
Removing the burden of registering to vote from the individual is one way to ease the democratic process, making Election Day a national holiday or having the election on a weekend would be another.
Mr Trump’s anti-AVR rant included many baseless claims, such as it being used to steal any future election in Pennsylvania – the system doesn’t take into account political allegiances when registering voters. Mr Trump’s claims about the 2020 election also being fraudulent similarly have no basis in fact.
If Republicans in Congress listened to Mr Trump and took action against AVR, it would require federal legislation sure to be stopped in the Democratic Senate and rejected by President Joe Biden, MSNBC noted.
Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Mr Shapiro, told PennLive in a statement that “the former president’s obsession with spreading lies about our elections is dangerous — and that’s why Governor Shapiro defeated him and his enablers over 40 times in court as Attorney General after the 2020 election”.
“But facts matter — and it is abundantly clear this commonsense, nonpartisan step to securely streamline voter registration and enhance election security is within the Governor’s executive authority. The Governor will remain focused on defending our democracy and empowering eligible Pennsylvanians to vote, no matter who they choose to support,” he added.
Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent called Mr Trump’s post “a striking admission”.
“Donald Trump just openly stated that making it easier to vote in Pennsylvania is a direct threat both to the Republican Party and to *his own presidential campaign*,” he wrote on X.
“Trump and Republicans shouldn’t oppose automatic voter registration ... if Rs and right-leaning pundits take seriously the idea that Trump and right wing populism mobilizes their own disaffected voters, AVR might actually benefit *them*,” he added. “I mean this sincerely. If one of the virtues of right wing populism is that it has subterranean majoritarian appeal that’s being suppressed by liberal elites, then why aren’t the right wing populist thinker types in favor of making voting easier?”