YEO Policy Books 2015 Policy Book - Page 7

Voter Registration: California’s New Motor Voter Program of 2015 Origin: California State Legislature Bill Name/Number: AB 1461 Link: Click here YEO Sponsor: Assemblyman Luis Alejo Summary: Passed in the fall of 2015, California’s Motor Voter Program will allow eligible Californians to be automatically registered to vote when they go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain or renew a driver’s license or state identification card. Though automatic, this law also allows Californians to opt out of registering. Talking Points & Important Information: • Civic participation in the United States is weak compared to other democracies. Approximately 51 million eligible Americans are still not registered to vote – this means that almost 1 in 4 eligible persons are not registered. • According to the Brennan Center, automatic registration does two very small but transformative things. First, it registers eligible citizens when they interact with government agencies, unless they decide to opt out. That is a subtle, but impactful change — the status quo method is to keep people off the rolls unless they take an action to get themselves registered. The second is that government agencies will electronically transfer voter registration information instead of making election officials hand-enter data from paper forms. • Automatic and electronic voter registration at the DMV, one of the most regularly patronized government agencies, not only increases opportunities for registration but also places the onus for accurately registering eligible individuals on the government rather than advocates. • Lauded by voting rights and modernization advocates as a “watershed moment,” California’s New Motor Voter Program works in concert with a host of voting reform bills that modernizes the registration and voting process for the nation’s most populous but least registered state. Officials estimate that this program will tap into the 6.6 million unregistered-yet-eligible voters in the state, plugging last year’s recording low 42 percent voter turnout. • While Oregon spearheaded enacting motor voter, 18 states plus Washington D.C. have proposed similar bills. 2015 POLICY BOOK STATE LEVEL PAGE 7