California New Motor Voter Act Would Streamline Voter Registration Process for Millions of Eligible, Unregistered Voters
SACRAMENTO – (Thursday, March 26, 2015) – California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla today proposed the California New Motor Voter Act, which would result in the addition of millions of new registered voters in Californians by registering every eligible resident who goes to a DMV to get a license or renew one, with the ability to opt out.
The California New Motor Voter Act, which will be considered by the Legislature as Assembly Bill 1461, calls for data already being collected by the DMV to be provided to local election officials to expand voter registration while protecting the public's right to privacy and to decline registration.
An estimated 7 million Californians are eligible to vote but unregistered, ranking the state 38th among the 50 states in voter registration.
“The California New Motor Voter Act provides an opportunity to bring millions of eligible voters into the electoral process,” Gonzalez said. “Our democracy is stronger when more people in the community have a voice at the ballot box. Even as some states are becoming more restrictive in guaranteeing the public a voice in our democracy, California should do everything it can to ensure people’s right to be a voter.”
Modeled after the recent “New Motor Voter” law in Oregon, AB 1461 allows for data already collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles to be provided by the Secretary of State to verify a resident’s eligibility to vote. After determining a resident to be eligible to vote, the Secretary of State then provides the information to county Registrars of Voters who maintain each county’s voter rolls. Those residents who are eligible to vote would be contacted by the Secretary of State with the option of declining registration or adopting a political party affiliation. The bill would continue to protect those covered by existing confidentiality policies, and voters would retain their right to cancel their voter registration at any time.
Secretary of State Padilla said he is excited to work with Assemblywoman Gonzalez to bring the Oregon law to California.
“One of the biggest barriers to citizen participation is the voter registration process. A new, enhanced Motor Voter law would strengthen our democracy. It would be a game changer,” Secretary Padilla said. “While Oregon could expand its voter rolls by as much as 300,000 voters through their new enhanced Motor Voter process, California could expand it rolls by millions.”
In 2014, Gonzalez authored the VOTE Act (AB 1873), creating a pilot program in San Diego County to provide all voters with mail ballots in special legislative elections.
For more information on AB 1461 or to interview Assemblywoman Gonzalez, contact Evan McLaughlin at (916) 319-2080 or (619) 850-2790.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez represents California’s 80th Assembly District, which includes portions of the cities of San Diego, Chula Vista and National City. She serves as Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on Women in the Workplace and is a single mom. For more information, visit http://asmdc.org/members/a80/.