Category Archives: Government

In Senate, Blackberry Era Officially Over

This is the way the world ends. Not with a clickity keyboard, but with a swipe.

Senate staffers will no longer be issued official Blackberry smartphones.

The reign of the Blackberry lasted a good decade or more in Congress, early on due to the advanced nature of the devices and obsession with email checking. Even when the iPhone and Androids came about, the Blackberry still kept the throne for awhile because typing on those tiny little keys was faster, a mastered skill with which the iPhone could not compete. (This being government, they were slow to adopt other devices and Bring Your Own Device policies.)

Eventually, though, cracks in the dam formed and other devices started eating up Blackberry’s near-exclusive market share. Yet, unlike the rest of the country, which quickly abandoned Blackberry and sent its corporate owner towards the verge of bankruptcy, the devices still endured in zip codes 20510 and 20515. Long battery life, an email heavy focus, and good size (complete with a douchey belt holster) kept this little niche alive in the subterranean halls of the Capitol.

Outside the beltway, the market dried up. Fewer and fewer models were created, and the old models hoarded by Capitol bureaucrats began to dwindle.

The final notice was sent to staffers today.

A pile of Senate Blackberries await secure destruction, 2010.

A pile of Senate Blackberries await secure destruction, 2010.

From: Notice (SAA)
Sent: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 3:56 PM
Subject: BlackBerry Discontinuation

This message was sent to Administrative Managers, Chief Clerks, and System Administrators.

BlackBerry Discontinuation

BlackBerry informed Verizon and AT&T that production of all BlackBerry OS 10 devices (Q10, Z10, Z30, Passport, and Classic) has been discontinued. Future carrier order fulfillment will not be guaranteed due to limited remaining stock.

BlackBerry device support will continue for the foreseeable future. BlackBerry is committed to maintaining their support of our devices to include uninterrupted warranty and technical support.

Once we have exhausted our current in-house stock, new device procurements will be limited, while supplies last, to warranty exchanges only.

As of June 29, 2016, our BlackBerry device stock levels are:

RIM Classic Verizon BlackBerry – 275

RIM Z30 Verizon Black BlackBerry – 160

RIM Classic AT&T BlackBerry – 45

RIM Passport AT&T BlackBerry – 45

RIM Z10 AT&T Black BlackBerry – 45

RIM Q10 AT&T Black Blackberry – 40

For offices wishing to make the transition from BlackBerry devices to other platforms, Verizon has agreed to suspend eligibility upgrade requirements for users migrating to Samsung S6 Android devices. Additionally, the $0 16GB iPhone SE has been added to the Technology Catalog, although current eligibility upgrade and mandatory AppleCare+ requirements apply.

If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Mobile Communications Services.

 


UPDATE: The folks over at Crackberry.com reached out to Blackberry about the Senate’s internal email and the company disputes the email’s claim that Blackberry 10 devices will “cease to be continued.”

How Maryland Does its Distance Signs

Since a few of you shared my interest in why Pennsylvania and Maryland have different distances to D.C. and Baltimore on their highway signs, I figured I would ask the Maryland State Highway Administration how they measure the distance, and how it might differ from PA’s method.

Here’s what they sent me:

Good Afternoon Mr. Swift:

This email is in response to your question regarding how Maryland determines the mileage for post interchange distance signs.  In the case of Baltimore City, Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) measures from the location of the sign to the Town Hall.  In the case of Washington D.C., the SHA measures from the sign location to the center of the Elipse.   The mileage is generally rounded up so as not to display decimals or fractions, particularly when the distance is great such as the distance from the Maryland / Pennsylvania State Line to the Baltimore and DC destinations.

Interchange guide signs, which do display fractions, are typically rounded down to the nearest ¼ mile so that the motorist is aware that their exit is eminent and that time to make necessary lane changes is limited.

Thank you for allowing the SHA the opportunity to respond to your concerns.

Cheryl Schreiber

Asst. Chief, Traffic Engineering Design Division

My Ideal GOP Debate

After Donald Trump’s embarrassing showing on Hugh Hewitt’s superb radio program, I had an idea for a GOP debate.

Here’s how it would work:

The candidates, however chosen, would appear on stage as they normally do. Except now, they also have a buzzer and a final Jeopardy! writing board.

A random order would be chosen, and the candidates would first be asked to answer a trivia question on something a Presidential candidate should ostensibly know.

Like:

  • Name two types of refundable tax credits.
  • Which is the largest branch of the military?
  • What is the highest marginal tax rate?
  • Under the Congressional Review Act, how many days does Congress have to disapprove of a regulation?

You get the point. Nothing too hard, nothing too easy. Generally, something a 27 year old hill staffer could answer. This is the introductory round.

Get the initial trivia question correct, 30 seconds is added to your clock, visible to the audience. Like money in Jeopardy! (This time is kept on as a point system of sorts.)

For getting a question right, you get a follow-up question about your policy proposals or what you would do in a certain situation, much like a regular debate. You’ll have 30 seconds — not deducted from your clock time — to answer to keep things flowing.

Here’s where it gets fun. After two rounds of each of the ten candidates having the opportunity to get the preliminary question correct, we move to the lightning rounds.

This is where all candidates will be asked a preliminary question, and the first to buzz in gets an opportunity to answer it. Get it wrong, lose 30 seconds. Others can then buzz in if they’re wrong. Get it right? Get 30 seconds.

There would be three lightning rounds with 10 questions, and if any candidate is at 0:00 or negative time after a lightning round, they’re out of the debate.

During the lightning round, there would not be a follow-up question as there was in the introductory round. Only the trivia questions and an opportunity to win time.

After the lightning rounds, there is a single question (like in Final Jeopardy!) where those remaining can wager time and answer the question in writing.

Those who survive move to the last round, which is two more sets of trivia questions / follow-up questions, like in the preliminary round.

And at the end, we would likely have a definitive winner: the person with the most time. And they get to use that amount of time to make a stump speech while the others watch.

Sound fun? I think so. But it will never happen.

 

How to Co-Exist With Coyotes

The email posted (in full) below is perhaps the best email I have ever read.

A few observations:

What citizen wants to be told they have to co-exist (time to update the bumper sticker!) with a dangerous wild animal?

There is a bear on the loose in McLean, Virginia this week.  If the Fairfax County Animal Control Services bureau sent out an email with the subject line “How to Co-Exist With Bears” the fine people of McLean would revolt. Tell us your plan for neutralizing the threat, or if killing them is too cumbersome/costly, at least tell us your plan for getting them out of here and into the Shenandoah Valley. (But seriously, D.C., stop trying to give us your rats.)

Whoever wrote this email is either a troll or a genius: “At this time we are recommending the use of humane “hazing techniques” designed to re-instill the fear of people for the coyotes.”

HAZING? It’s a problematic buzzword! You can’t support hazing can you? Now we’re supposed to haze coyotes? If one memory is ingrained in my brain from college, is that hazing does instill a fear of people, usually active members of the fraternity you’re pledging. (Just kidding, TKE! I was not ever hazed ever by anyone. Promise!)

Let’s jump ahead to the methods of hazing the City of Los Angeles suggests:

  • Yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote
  • Noisemakers: Voice, whistles, air horns, bells, “shaker” cans full of marbles or pennies, pots, lid or pie pans banged together
  • Projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls
  • Other: hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray or bear repellent

The yelling and screaming part is standard fare, and reads like a Mike Birbiglia skit. However, the part about noisemakers is pure gold. I still have a lifeguard whistle somewhere in my closet.  If you’ve forgotten what one of these sounds like, don’t Google it. I’ll put it this way: they’re not your run of the mill freshman orientation rape whistles — they will make your ears bleed.

Air Horns? Really? This email pretty much just deputized any Angeleno to walk around town with an air horn like they use in Billboard Top 40 songs.

“What seems to be the problem, officer?”

“Oh, my coyote self-defense air horn? Yeah, I had to use that to scare off a coyote and then he ran away.”

Anyone who has a dog knows that a leash, a poop bag and treats are a bit of a hassle to carry around in addition to the keys, wallet, and cell phone. So, it’s heartening to see a government agency suggesting you carry an air horn, bells, tin cans full of noisy things, or a pot/pan and (presumably) a spatula as well.

Some entrepreneur needs to invent a keychain coyote deterrent tin can. This is America. Make it happen. Or maybe even an air horn that you can wear around your neck like a LifeAlert. Nevermind! The email kindly informs “you can purchase small air horn ‘necklaces.'” Because that’s where I want an ear-drum shattering air horn, on a necklace. Near my face.

The email links to a Canadian ecology webpage that suggests home-made coyote deterrents, but nobody thought to check the link to see if it still works. It doesn’t, but it did three years ago. The suggestions are helpful: Tie five or six cans to a string and carry it behind you like you just got married while walking your dog! Dogs love noises like that.

Or, put 40 pennies in a pop can, duct tape the mouth of the can shut, and perhaps fashion a necklace to facilitate easy carrying of a penny can around your neck. Coyotes hate that shit.

NOTE:It is critical to use a variety of different hazing tools so the coyotes don’t get used to a single device, sound, or action.

In case your local coyote is a real dick, be sure to wear the air horn necklace and the penny can necklace.

Great suggestions so far. What’s next?

Keep the cover on the spa and keep the gate to the pool closed.

Literally everyone I know in Los Angeles has a “spa.” Is a spa like a hot tub? I always thought spas were indoors, but I am a rube from Ohio — what do I know? And these days, I hear pools are big in California.

Generally coyotes are reclusive and like to hide in brush or thickets. Thinning or clearing the undergrowth removes hiding places.

One thing that grows like crazy during a drought is grass. Make sure you don’t let that grass get too high, Angelinos! Brush is a real problem these days.

The coyote may run away, but then stop after a distance and look at you. It is important to continue to go after the coyote until he completely leaves the area.

If you’re a true American, you better charge after that coyote until he is somebody else’s problem*. (*=Unless you live on the border of town near woods or something.)

When walking your dog, make sure to follow this advice:

[Use] sticks or other objects to throw towards (but not at) the coyote

We wouldn’t want to harm the coyote or provoke it with stick throwing — we know sticks, like stones, may break our bones — but be sure run directly at it so it knows you mean business. But since words will never hurt us, be sure to yell “Go Away Coyote!” unless the coyote doesn’t speak English. My Spanish is rusty, but I think it’s something along the lines of “¡Márchese el coyote!”

All of this silliness reminds me of a famous inside-the-beltway fight between Don Young (R-AK) and George Miller (D-CA). The long and short of it was that wolves were killing dogs in Alaska, and Alaska allowed aerial hunting of wolves. Miller thought this was tragic, and his spox decried Young’s attempts to scuttle Miller’s efforts by saying:

“Americans love dogs, but they detest the cruel treatment of wolves. Alaska’s aerial hunting program is a blatant effort to skirt federal law. Fortunately, Mr. Young’s letters are helping us build overwhelming bipartisan support for Miller’s PAW Act.”

Perhaps call it the “How to Co-Exist with Wolves Act.” As for me, I side with Young and the President Thomas J. Whitmore approach: Kill them. Kill the bastards.

Full email:

How to Co-Exist with Coyotes
TIPS from Los Angeles Animal Services

Dear Angelenos,

Some neighborhoods feel they are seeing more coyote visitors this year.If accurate it may be reflective of the drought, but I’m starting to think that either people are making it easier for them to get food or the coyotes may have simply adapted to urban living and lost the fear of people. At this time we are recommending the use of humane “hazing techniques” designed to re-instill the fear of people for the coyotes.

I’d like to offer you a few tips and suggestions to keep your two and four-legged family members safe.

Four Quick Tips:

1.Do not feed Wildlife, even indirectly. 

·If you feed your companion animals outdoors, give them ten or fifteen minutes to eat and then remove the food bowls.Partially eaten food or even odiferous empty food bowls attract hungry wildlife.

·Keep trash cans tightly closed with tamper proof tops.

·Empty water containers such as outside water for companion animals or children’s pools. Keep the cover on the spa and keep the gate to the pool closed.

2.Supervise your pets and small children when outside. 

3.Remove unnecessary undergrowth that creates hiding places. 

·Generally coyotes are reclusive and like to hide in brush or thickets. Thinning or clearing the undergrowth removes hiding places.

4.Safely haze without harming them, instilling their natural fear of Humans.

·Coyotes who have adapted to urban living may realize there are few real threats and may approach people or visit yards when people are present. Safe and humane hazing can re-instill the fear of people.

·NOTE:It is critical to use a variety of different hazing tools so the coyotes don’t get used to a single device, sound, or action.

Methods of Hazing

Using a variety of different hazing tools is critical so that coyotes don’t get used to redundant or single stimulus devices, sounds, and actions. Here are a few methods of hazing that I found on the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) website.

·Yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote

·Noisemakers: Voice, whistles, air horns, bells, “shaker” cans full of marbles or pennies, pots, lid or pie pans banged together

·Projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls

·Other: hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray or bear repellent

“Go Away Coyote!”

The simplest method of hazing a coyote involves being loud and large. Stand tall, wave your arms, and yell at the coyote, approaching him if necessary, until he runs away. If a coyote has not been hazed before, he may not immediately run away when you yell at him. If this happens, walk towards the coyote and increase the intensity of your hazing.

The coyote may run away, but then stop after a distance and look at you. It is important to continue to go after the coyote until he completely leaves the area.  You may need to use different tactics, such as noisemakers, stomping your feet, or spraying the coyote with a hose to get him to leave.

Dog-Walking Tools

There are several tools that you can carry with you while walking your dog that can be used to repel coyotes.  These include:

·Homemade noisemakers

·Whistle or small air horn (you can purchase small air horn “necklaces”)

·Squirt guns

·Pepper spray

·Sticks or other objects to throw towards (but not at) the coyote

In Your Yard

Remember, keeping pets and pet food inside is the best way to keep coyotes out of your yard.  If you do encounter coyotes, all of the above methods can be used in your yard at home.  First, try the “Go away coyote!” method (yell and wave your arms as you approach the coyote).  Here are some additional methods you can also use:

·Squirt the coyote with your garden hose

·Spray the coyote with vinegar water

·Bang pots and pans together

Important things to remember

NEVER run away from a coyote! The coyote may not leave at first, but if you approach him closer and/or increase the intensity of your hazing, he will run away. If the coyote runs away a short distance and then stops and looks at you, continue hazing until he leaves the area entirely.

After you have successfully hazed a coyote, he or she may return. Continue to haze the coyote as you did before; it usually takes only one or two times to haze a coyote away for good.

If you continue to experience unusual Wildlife behaviors, please contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (http://www.dfg.ca.gov). For more information regarding how to co-exist with our local Wildlife, search on or call our LA Animal Services NON EMERGENCY Wildlife phone line 323-225-WILD (9453). For any urgent animal related EMERGENCY calls (injured, orphaned (alone >24 hours), distressed, or sick animals) call your local shelter at 888-452-7381 and follow the prompts. For any Human life threatening situations call 9-1-1.

Enjoy the rest of your summer,

Brenda F. Barnette
General Manager
Los Angeles Animal Services

How to Ruin Your Sunday

Watch this amazing, terrifying, graphic old BBC film called The War Game (1965) about how Britain might respond to nuclear war.

This line stuck out as I watched it:

“Within the next 15 years, possibly another 12 countries will have acquired thermonuclear weapons. For this reason, if not through accident or the impulses of man himself, it is now more than possible that what you have seen happen in this film will have taken place before the year 1980.”

Of course, that did not occur.

While we’re on the topic, Iran’s pretty close to a bomb… and has been for some time. The horrors of one bomb won’t be as bad as global thermonuclear war — but it would be really bad. It could lead to further use of nuclear weapons, going down the road to… yes. Turtles all the way down to global thermonuclear war. Or a small version of it.

Would the survivors envy the dead? Probably.

Enough With the Alerts

I’m sick of alerts. How many do we have now? Amber, Silver, Wireless Emergency Alerts, Presidential Alerts. There are probably more depending where you live.

The problem is dead children or dead senior citizens lead to bad laws. Nobody is against wanting to help find abducted kids before any more harm than the abduction itself is done. Likewise, nobody wants to lose their senile grandparent.

Bad things happen all the time. But do we, as a society, have to bother everyone about it?

The answer, apparently, is yes.

Amber Alerts were really the first wave. The modern-day version of milk carton kids, but in real time. Then came Silver Alerts. And then, participating cell phone carriers, the CTIA, and the FCC got together to set up the Wireless Alert System. This one is by far the most annoying and intrusive. Thankfully, it’s optional.

A few years back I bought a new phone, and it was pre-set to get such messages. I live near a tributary of the Potomac that floods when it rains. It’s 2 a.m. I’m sleeping. A shrill banshee wakes me up. It’s my phone. Just wanted to let you know it’s raining pretty heavy outside.

No more alerts for me.

In Washington, there’s a big local story about how a female Episcopal Bishop killed a cyclist — a protected class in the D.C. area — while drunk and left the scene, only to come back and admit guilt. It’s a sad story, and hopefully justice will be served, even if it can’t bring back the life of the prominent cyclist she killed.

In Maryland, where it happened, there have been a spate of hit and runs that have gone unsolved. Some argue that the state’s large illegal immigrant population is to blame, fearing deportation if they stop. (Frankly, nobody can drive around here, so while the immigration:hit and run correlation makes sense, I’m not sure I buy that it’s the only reason it happens around here. We have lots of major league assholes.)

In response, a Maryland State Senator has proposed… wait for it… another alert system!

Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, is proposing Yellow alerts to disseminate information on hit-and-run drivers, including vehicle and suspect descriptions. Like Amber and Silver alerts for children and seniors, Yellow alerts would pop up on residents’ cellphones, highway billboards and online.

But what about distracted driving, Bryan! How am I supposed to follow those laws and help solve every crime?

I kid, but this is over the top. That’s the problem with trying to do nice things. It starts with an Amber Alert, and then, every time something bad happens, the aggrieved want their own alert.

Here are a list of other proposed alerts, along with other ones I’ve completely made up. See if you can pick which are real and which are fake:

  • Rep. John Paul Jordan has proposed an “Inmate Alert” early warning system that would alert the public when an inmate escapes.
  • Rep. Tony Cornish has proposed a “Blue Alert” to help catch anyone suspect of wounding or killing a police officer.
  • Rep. Matt Santos has proposed a “Green Alert” to alert the public of environmental disasters like oil spills or poison entering public waters.
  • Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has proposed a “Dangerous Dog Alert” to protect people and pets from irresponsible dog owners.
  • Rep. Jim Dudley has proposed a “Red, White, and Blue Alert” to help catch those accused of killing or harming an endangered species.
  • Senator Jackson Richman has proposed a “Camouflage Alert” to alert the public to illegal off-season hunting or poaching on public lands.
  • President Obama proposes “Earthquake Early Warning System.”

The ones by Santos, Dudley, and Richman are fake. The rest are real. And might be coming to a cell phone or alert billboard near you.

As for me, if I really wanted to be up on all of these things, I’d watch the local news.

Paul Krugman Was (Probably) Right!

It pains me to admit this, but Paul Krugman was probably correct about something. (Though, modern-day Krugman might disagree.)

I’d point you to this excellent NRO item:

But what if 2014’s jobs boom is mostly thanks to the expiration of a program that the Obama administration and Democrats fervently pushed to renew?

That’s the finding of a new NBER working paper from three economists — Marcus Hagedorn, Kurt Mitman, and Iourii Manovskii — who contend that the ending of federally extended unemployment benefits across the country at the end of 2013 explains much of the labor-market boom in 2014.

About 60 percent of the job creation in 2014, 1.8 million jobs, they find, can be attributed to the end of the extended-benefits program. That’s a huge amount, and suggests that long-term unemployment benefits, while there’s a good charitable case for them, could have played a big role in the ongoing lassitude of our labor market. (Indeed, an earlier working paper from a few of the same authors argued that extended benefits raised the unemployment rate during the Great Recession by three percentage points; see a summary of that paper here.)

This brings me back down memory lane, nearly five years ago, to my days as a young and brash aide to Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) in 2010.

Here’s what Krugman sneered in his column back then about floor remarks made by my boss regarding the large expansion of unemployment insurance:

Here’s what Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, had to say when defending Mr. Bunning’s position (although not joining his blockade): unemployment relief “doesn’t create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work.”

To Krugman fanatics and haters, it’s not news that Krugman will write one thing, and then, years later with a newspaper column, write something completely different.

So, we went to the Library of Congress and pulled out the text book he had written with his wife, called “Macroeconomics” and look what we found:

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect. . . . In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

Golly.

So, a letter to the NY Times — something they are known for not publishing if critical — was drafted. And wouldn’t you know? It got published.

Though, we never did hear back from Paul Krugman. But I hope pre-NYT Krugman is feeling somewhat vindicated.

Here’s the letter:

jk nyt unemployment

Hot Pockets, US International Tax Law, and Corporate Inversions

Here’s a recent appearance on One America News Network where I discuss the global economy, corporate inversions, and everyone’s favorite treat: Hot Pockets.

This Guy Isn’t Homeless, He’s Running for Governor

I came across this video of California gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari living in Fresno, California on the streets for a week, trying to find work. I’ll admit I was skeptical that the 10-minute video would be compelling campaign advertising. I was wrong.

Kashkari has come from pretty much nowhere in the polls to be the Republican nominee in the California governor’s race. Just like he sort of came from nowhere to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Bush and Obama, specifically charged with overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. Not a popular job. Of course, to the far left he is a boogeyman because he worked at Goldman Sachs. To the far right, he’s a boogeyman because he helped administer, well, bailouts.

Elijah Cummings, an embattled Democratic congressman from Baltimore, asked at an oversight hearing whether or not he was a “chump:”

“Mr. Kashkari, in the neighborhood I grew up in, in the inner city of Baltimore, one of the things that you tried to do was make sure that you were not considered a chump … What really bothers me is all these other people who are lined up. They say, well, is Kashkari a chump?”

Kashkari apparently did not take that flogging very well.

Kashkari heads to a Home Depot to find work.

Kashkari heads to a Home Depot to find work.

Kashkari’s background, which I had not researched, surprised me a bit.

He’s from Akron, Ohio. He’s a Cleveland Browns fan with, according to the Plain Dealer, dogs named “Winslow and Newsome.” He went to Western Reserve Academy — a nice private school, but didn’t go to a top-tier college. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to study engineering. (He got an undergrad degree and a master’s.)

It was only after he attended Wharton for his MBA that he went into finance, and followed Hank Paulson to the Treasury department.

Former Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi wrote a column about him with the headline: Bailout Architect Runs For California Governor; World Laughs. He joked “It seems Jerry Brown has become his own personal Dolph Lundgren.”

In the piece, he noted that Kashkari isolated himself in the woods after the flogging from Cummings, et. al., where he built a shed, chopped wood to lose weight, and helped with Hank Paulson’s book.

Taibbi concluded: “Anyway, having this guy run for public office is like a gift from the blogging gods. How funny will this get? Will this one go to 11? I’m taking the over.”

One nice campaign video does not a winning campaign make. (Kashkari has a few nice videos…) Then again, most politicians prefer to post pictures on Twitter showing “look, I’m eating Ramen Noodles in my well appointed Washington house” rather than go and live on the streets for a week.

I don’t know if a 10 minute YouTube video on poverty will convince Democrats dissatisfied with Gov. Brown to consider Kashkari as a recipient of their vote, but one thing’s for sure — Kashkari’s trip into the woods may be funny joke fodder for Matt Taibbi, but Neel Kashkari isn’t going to be anybody’s chump this go-around.

Watch the video here:

Update: Kashkari’s campaign is hurting for cash, nearly broke.

The Problem With Automatic Voter Registration

Tonight at Hillary Clinton’s debut on the Ricki Lake Christiane Amanpour CNN Townhall, there was a discussion about “mandatory voting” (what is this, China?) and “Automatic Voter registration.”

Election Law Blog notes:

5:55 p.m.: Asked if there should be mandatory voting, Clinton “no,” but argued “there should be automatic registration.”

“When a young person turns 18, that young person should be registered to vote,” she said. “And I deplore the efforts by some to restrict the right to vote.”

Now, I suppose trial lawyers might love the idea of a bigger jury pool — or maybe they won’t. Friend of the blog and former professor of mine Doc Lawrence says:

I actually don’t have a problem with this (although I think automatic registration would not have a very large effect on voter turnout; frankly I think the biggest depressing factors in the US are election fatigue and weekday voting).

Doc’s views are on point, but my concern with automatic voter registration is one of procedure. I think it would probably cause a lot of problems.

Potential candidates for President usually don’t campaign on non-federal issues, so I don’t think we’re assuming wrongly that Hillary is talking about a federal proposal to automatically register voters*. (*= Assuming felons, green card holders, illegal aliens excepted.)

Typically, and with some notable exceptions, election law  is left up to the states. But the feds do have the ultimate say.

Oregon has been considering such a measure:

which would allow the state to automatically register any Oregonian when a state agency already has their name, age, address and digital signature

Whereby:

The measure calls for using driver’s license data from the state to automatically register people if they are citizens and meet other criteria for voting. Under the bill, the secretary of state’s office would send a postcard to all new registrants giving them a chance to opt out of registering.

Now, imagine 50 some odd voting jurisdictions forced by the federal government to coordinate sorting this mess out. Yes, they already have to coordinate it, but imagine adding lots of young people who are going to be transient for the near future, and don’t vote in great numbers.

What’s the point? Registering to vote is not hard.

Compounding the problem is that these kids go to college, meet an activist in the dorm/on the street who convinces them to sign a petition and register to vote for whatever cause. Their driver’s license, license plate, state where they pay income taxes all (likely wrongly) might be another state.

But now they think they’re registered to vote in another state despite all of that. And come fall, assuming they don’t lose interest, they plan to vote there.

Or maybe when they’re back home they plan to vote back home. Surprise!

With Oregon, somebody decides to change their driver’s license while attending college in Oregon to get in-state tuition. But, they still (wrongly) consider themselves residents of the state where their parents live, and still pay taxes and vote there.

Dumb as it seems, these things happen — and my friends who think I am a residency Nazi are also the same ones trying to convince me that keeping their out of state whatever isn’t some sort of fraud. (The DC/MD/VA area is pretty harsh on failing to become a resident.)

And these are adults we’re talking about — not 22 year olds.

Residency, we’re told, is all about intent — and people love cheating for whatever reason. Whether it’s taxes, making their vote “count more”, or their silly customized license plates they’ve had.

If Oregon, a state with just under 4 million residents expects an automatic voter ID law would result in 500,000 new voters, you can imagine the complications that would cause across the country in keeping the system safe and fair.

My opinion is that the complications of the real world get in the way when it comes to a national automatic voting system, and on top of that, it’s pretty much an unfunded mandate.

Enjoy jury duty!