White House defends voter registration through ObamaCare

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday defended a section of the application for health insurance subsidies under the president's signature healthcare law where applicants can register to vote.

Carney said that similar provisions had existed for years on federal Medicare applications.

“The linkage of, you know, checking off whether or not you want to register to vote goes back to a 1993 law regarding Medicaid,” he said.

Under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, states are required to ask applicants for driver's licenses and social services if they would like to register to vote.

Rep. Charles BoustanyCharles William BoustanyFormer lawmakers call on leadership to focus on unity Partial disengagement based on democratic characteristics: A new era of US-China economic relations Lobbying world MORE (R-La.) on Monday suggested that the voter registration section was a politically motivated overreach.

“The draft documents wander into areas outside the department's purview and links applications for health insurance subsidies to voter registration,” he wrote in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusWorking for lasting change Former HHS secretary Sebelius joins marijuana industry group More than 200 Obama officials sign letter supporting Biden's stimulus plan MORE on Monday.

“The position of the question could lead some to think voter registration is somehow tied to subsidy eligibility,” he wrote.

Carney rejected the notion that linking voter registration to the president's signature healthcare plan was intended to link federal benefits to the Democratic Party.

“Does that mean Republicans are disowning any ownership of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security?” Carney asked.

He added: “I'm not sure that it's such a terrible thing that people might want to register to vote.”

In his letter, Boustany demands the Obama administration explain how the voter registration part of the health insurance registration process would work by April 8.

“While the healthcare law requires that government agencies collect vast information about Americans’ personal lives, it does not give your department an interest in whether individual Americans choose to vote,” he wrote.

—This story was posted at 3:07 p.m. and updated at 4:31 p.m.