California Seeks Obamacare Funding for Voter Registration
California has added voter registration to its Obamacare enrollment process and now they want Obamacare funding to cover those costs.
Peter Lee, the head of Covered California, asked in a letter to Obamacare officials whether federal funding intended to help start up state health exchanges can also be used for voter registration. Specifically, Lee is asking whether California can use funding under Section 1311 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for voter registration.
This section provides grants to carry out the establishment of health exchanges. There is no mention of voter registration (or funding for that purpose) anywhere in the ACA.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (the Motor-Voter law) does require that voter registration be provided by States at offices that provide public assistance. But the Motor-Voter law does not provide any funding either.
President Clinton did issue an executive order in 1994 to carry out the provisions of the Motor-Voter law which provides for assistance to states, including funding, which is “consistent with legal authority and the availability of funds”. Since the ACA provides no funding, there is no legal authority to grant California funding under Obamacare.
In his letter, Lee writes: “To the extent Section 1311 funding is [sic] cannot be used to support voter registration activities, Covered California will need to use revenues generated by assessments on our qualified health plans to support these activities.” However, Lee provides no legal justification to use these assessments for voter registration purposes.
The ACLU has been pushing the state to implement an enhanced voter registration program and has even produced a how-to guide to help the state. The ACLU has also volunteered to provide training (presumably to navigators).
Given Obama’s extensive track record of ignoring the explicit provisions of the ACA, it seems likely that California will be given a green light to raid Obamacare funding for voter registration purposes. This can only help create an electorate which will be more dependent on big government and more likely to vote for those who promise more big government.