Via TPM, Rick Perlstein says that the race-baiting tactics the GOP uses to block voting reform started as Reagan's reaction to Carter's proposals:
Everyone loved to talk about voter apathy, but the real problem, Carter said, was that “millions of Americans are prevented or discouraged from voting in every election by antiquated and overly restricted voter registration laws”—a fact proven, he pointed out, by record rates of participation in 1976 in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, where voters were allowed to register on election day. So he proposed that election-day registration be adopted universally, tempering concerns that such measures might increase opportunities for fraud by also proposing five years in prison and a $10,000 fine as penalties for electoral fraud.
A more perfect democracy. Who could find this controversial?
You guessed it: movement conservatives, who took their lessons about Democrats and “electoral reform” from Republican allegations that had Kennedy beating Nixon via votes received from the cemeteries of Chicago.
Ronald Reagan had been on this case for years. ... In his newspaper column, Reagan said the increase in voting would come from “the bloc comprised of those who get a whole lot more from the federal government in various kinds of income distribution than they contribute to it.” And if those people prove too dumb to vote themselves a raise, “don’t be surprised if an army of election workers—much of it supplied by labor organizations which have managed to exempt themselves from election law restrictions—sweep through metropolitan areas scooping up otherwise apathetic voters and rushing them to the polls to keep the benefit dispensers in power.”
Ah, Reagan, the man who ran up the deficit more than any other previous president but whose followers credit him with fiscal prudence; the staunch anti-Communist who sold arms to Iran illegally; the man whose folksy charm barely concealed a racist, vile character who believed everything he wanted to and nothing he didn't.
The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interréd with their bones; so let it be with Reagan.
Meanwhile, one of the most thoughtful, patient, and correct leaders our country has ever had continues to suffer unfair attacks by the very people who think Reagan should be canonized, and who are starting to feel very nervous that there is something out there even worse than their fantasy of Carter...