Brown signs same-day voter registration bill

A few years from now, California citizens will have one less excuse for not voting.

In an effort to drive more Californians to the voting polls, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill late last month that will allow people to register to vote on Election Day.

Demetra Kasimis, an assistant political science professor at Cal State Long Beach, said this new bill is a step in the right direction.

“Any measure that seeks to make citizenship more inclusive is a positive step,” Kasimis said. “It’s nice to see that it’s happening in California.”

Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles) wrote Assembly Bill 1436 out of concern, after only 44 percent of eligible voters cast a vote in the November 2010 general elections.

In the bill, Feuer cited the current 15-day gap between the registration deadline and Election Day as a hindrance to voter participation.

“This should lead to greater voter participation rates, which will provide election results that more fully reflect the will of the people,” Feuer said.

The bill will become law at the beginning of 2013, but voters will have to wait a few years to take advantage of Election Day voter registration.

Before the law can take effect, the Secretary of State has to finalize the VoteCal voter registration database, a single system for storing and managing the list of registered voters in the state. VoteCal is not expected to be up and running until 2015, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

With this new bill, California will be joining 10 other states, including Idaho, Rhode Island and Minnesota, in offering some form of Election Day voter registration.

Eric Sanchez, a sophomore psychology major, said he believes the new law will be convenient for those who want to vote but have tight schedules.

“If people are still allowed to register up to the day of elections, it would definitely increase the number of [participants],” Sanchez said. “I don’t think there will be a significant increase, but [citizens who simply missed a deadline] would actually be able to take advantage of their opportunity to vote.”

Raymoan Ford, a junior communications studies major, said he thinks the extended deadline will serve as an incentive for some citizens to make a last minute trip to the voting booths.

“Now they can’t make the excuse that they were unable to register,” Ford said.

Maria Rodriguez, a freshman psychology major, said while she sees the benefit of same-day voter registration, it could also give way to ill-informed voters.

“Voters who wait to the last minute, most likely, will not be well prepared because they may not be informed about what they are voting on,” Rodriguez said.

Many Republican lawmakers who are opposed to the bill argued that same-day voter registration could encourage incidences of voter fraud.

“Along with the new motor-voter process of registration, same-day registration and the new online registration system, our elections are becoming less and less secure,” Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-San Bernardino) said.

However, Kasimis said she disagrees.

“I’m not sure [this] can make voting less secure,” Kasimis said. “Voter fraud is not even a huge issue in this country anyway. I think making the process easier for people rather than debilitative and exclusive is a positive thing.”

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