by Asa Gordon, DC Statehood Green Party
The United States of America is founded on the principle of “no taxation without representation.” It stands to reason, then, that any document used by the federal or state government for taxation assessment constitutes sufficient taxpayer identification to register and vote for that government.The DC Statehood Green Party has adopted a resolution to strengthen voting rights for all citizens who file tax returns with the national or state government. The resolution proposes a Taxpayer Voter Identification Act (TVIA) establishing uniform national standards for voter registration and identification, to be promoted by the Green Party of the United States and adopted by the U.S. Congress.
TVIA mandates that any citizen of the United States who has filed a tax return is automatically registered to vote, and the state in which the tax return is filed is required to mail the taxpayer a registration and voter ID card. TVIA is the first voting rights enforcement act that invokes the malapportionment clause of the second section of the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or the Fifteenth Amendment. Under the provision of TVIA, any state that denies or abridges the use of taxpayer voter registration and/ or voter ID cards is subject to the malapportionment penalty clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, including the reduction of representation in Congress, under federal statute section six, title two of the U.S. Code.
TVIA would provide all federal taxpaying citizens with a Schedule TVID to attach to IRS forms 1040A, 1040, or 1040EZ. For states that require state tax returns, a copy of Schedule TVID is filed with the state’s tax return. The IRS would provide copies of Schedule TVID to the State’s Division of Elections for states that impose no income taxes on their residents. Non-citizens filing non-resident tax return 1040NR would not attach Schedule TVID.
Each state’s Board or Division of Elections would be required to extract federal data entered on Schedule TVID attached to IRS forms 1040A, 1040, or 1040ez and to mail out voter ID/registration cards to voter eligible taxpayer residents. The voter I.D. card issued by the states under TVIA could only be used for the purpose of identification at voting polls and only in the state in which it is issued.
Unlike the ill-fated proposal to add photos to Social Security cards as reported by Karen Tumulty in the Washington Post (April 10, 2014, “Bill Clinton idea could allow more to vote”), TVIA actually would allow more people to vote. Clinton’s SS photo ID card (pun intended) is a new wrinkle on the old idea of a national ID card, e.g. the Clinton Administration “Health Security Card” that died in congressional hearings. In 2013, legislators rejected Homeland Security’s proposal to expand a database of residents’ photo identification and biographical information, concerned that it came dangerously close to a national ID system. The American Civil Liberties Union has expressed fear that national ID cards could foster Fourth Amendment abuses with disparate impact on minorities. The new Clinton and Young SS photo ID proposal is a regurgitation of an old contentious debate with a history of bipartisan opposition.
TVIA has a legislative precedent in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). The TVIA legislation augments the goal of the NVRA to encourage greater access to voter registration for citizens. TVIA would expand that to include universal and national uniform standards for valid, state-issued voter IDs as a right to citizen taxpayers. More popularly known as The Motor Voter Act, NVRA requires state governments to allow registration when a qualifying voter applies for or renews their driver’s license or applies for social services. Indeed, a great deal of the controversy over the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is conservative anxiety over the potential for expanded voter registration under the ACA. The Obama Administration has recently made adjustments to ACA to comply with the NVRA to provide for voter registration by enrollees in the federal healthcare marketplace. The TVIA would require state governments to allow for automatic voter registration when a qualifying voter has filed a federal tax return in the state. The NVRA legislation was initially designed to reduce costs of voting registration by accumulating individual data when applying for a driver’s license and/or receiving social assistance. The TVIA legislation is designed to reduce costs of voting registration by accumulating individual data when filing a federal or state tax return.
The NVRA requires states to “accept and use” a uniform federal form to register voters for federal elections. That federal form, developed by the Federal Election Assistance Commission, requires only that an applicant aver, under penalty of perjury, that he is a citizen. The TVIA would require States to accept and use a uniform federal IRS Schedule TVID (Taxpayer Voter ID). IRS Schedule TVID would require only that a taxpayer aver citizenship under penalty of perjury. On June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court, in the case Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Ariz., Inc., upheld NVRA and ruled against an Arizona law that requires voter-registration officials to reject any application for registration, including a federal form that is not accompanied by documentary evidence of citizenship. The court held: “Arizona’s evidence-of-citizenship requirement, as applied to federal form applicants, is pre-empted by the NVRA’s mandate that states ‘accept and use’ the federal form.” Thus, the present Court has upheld a non-photo voter registration federal form that preempts state photo voter ID requirements as constitutional.
A Taxpayer Voter ID issued pursuant to the provisions of TVIA addresses both the legitimate and fraudulent concerns expressed by liberals and conservatives with regard to Voter ID requirements imposed by a state for the exercise of the franchise.