CA Democrats push to ease voter registration

Denise Cross / flickr

California Democrats succeeded in sending Gov. Jerry Brown legislation that would substantially expand voter registration.

The move teed up a significant advance toward one of the party’s longtime statewide and nationwide goals. As MSNBC noted, Democrats see themselves at a disadvantage when turnout reaches relative lows. “More than 70 million eligible Americans aren’t registered to vote — a key reason why turnout fell to just 36 percent in last fall’s midterms,” according to the network. “The unregistered are more likely than the registered to be non-white, young and poor – all groups that lean Democratic. Nearly half of all eligible Latinos, and over half of all eligible millennials, aren’t registered.”

AB1461, introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, would ensure “eligible citizens would be registered to vote when they get their driver’s license at the Department of Motor Vehicles unless they opt out,” according to the Los Angeles Times. “The measure would not take effect until a new computerized voter registration database is established some time next year,” presumably before November’s elections.

Heated rhetoric

The bill returned California — and the political media — to the heated climate of 2002, when Prop. 52 hit state ballots. That initiative “would have allowed people to register and vote on the same day,” the Washington Post recalled. “Backed by Democratic groups and opposed by Republicans, the proposal would have made it much easier to increase the vote from targeted demographics. Your candidate is supported heavily by older voters? Pull up a bus outside a nursing home, pack it full and drive to the polling place. Anyone not already registered could vote within minutes regardless.”

Cries of likely fraud drove Prop. 52 down to defeat

This time around, the state GOP have raised louder alarms about the possibility of fraud. As the IJ Review observed, lawmakers have cited “the increased potential for non-citizens to gain access to voting through these automatic motor-voter programs. California law allows unauthorized immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses, and opponents are concerned that they could inadvertently be registered to vote.” As the Times noted, state Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Murrieta, warned the bill could “further undermine the integrity of our election system.”

At the same time, civics-centric critics have cautioned that automatic registration could give greater weight to voters with a more casual or cavalier attitude toward the ballot. One editorialist at the Orange County Register suggested that, “while we celebrate the widespread expansion of the franchise, we ought to avoid cheapening it to the point where it is regarded as little more than a vehicle for self-expression. When you step into a voting booth, you hold the lives and livelihoods of your fellow citizens in your hands. If you can’t be bothered to register, perhaps you’re not ready for that responsibility.”

On the left, by contrast, the legislation was hailed as a great leap forward. In California, The Nation suggested, over 6.5 million voters would be registered. Although Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to signal whether he’ll sign the bill, The Nation added, he threw his weight behind the idea of automatic registration at the 1992 Democratic National Convention:

“Every citizen in America should have not only the right but the real opportunity to vote […]. And it’s the responsibility of government to ensure that by registering every American […]. They know how to get our taxes — why don’t they get our votes, and the votes of everyone in this country?”

Courting the unknown

At any rate, the bill has introduced a fresh layer of complexity to the California political calculus. By adding an “unknown” category to the way registrations tabulate political preferences, CA FWD noted, the bill would create a new question for candidates courting first-time voters: “How does a campaign target an unknown voter in the era of California’s Top Two Primary?”

Political Data, Inc.’s Paul Mitchell told CA FWD “we expect campaigns will do what they have with other new registrants: use age, geography, ethnicity, gender, household partisanship, and other factors to drive targeting decisions.” Reliable data on voters with unknown affiliations, in other words, was set to become a political premium.


Write a comment
  1. Dude
    Dude 24 September, 2015, 08:10

    In dimocrat vernacular, “Let the voter fraud begin!”

    Reply this comment
    • stallmucker
      stallmucker 24 September, 2015, 10:15

      Its a smoke screen and probability is an understated word for the fraud. Brown is all about fraud and he runs the state dept based on selfserving and b.s scaming the public . There is no accountability and they dont count all the votes . Its the political donkey stall that really needs some mucking!

      Reply this comment
  2. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 24 September, 2015, 08:32

    “…the state GOP have raised louder alarms about the possibility of fraud…”

    Ha Ha Ha, my dear boy, ‘fraud’ is EXACTLY what’s being cooked up, though that word is SO loaded with absurd negative connotations. We prefer the word ‘INCLUSION’, which means under this bill we could bring in busloads of people into crucial districts, people from…wherever (streets of TJ, Santa Ana..) pay them a few bucks to register and ‘vote’. The problem with our permanent supermajority of downtrodden in CA is that the downtrodden tend to be pretty damn apathetic about politics. They don’t think big thoughts and are hard to motivate….

    Reply this comment
  3. Just Another Disgruntled Citizen
    Just Another Disgruntled Citizen 24 September, 2015, 09:49

    Could it get any worse?

    Well, yes.

    The Republicans leadership, both statewide & local, have for decades been neglecting the all-important party-strengthening activity of registering voters. They need to be doing this every day all year long and wherever an opportunity presents itself. Oh, but that is drudgery. But, this is exactly what the Dems were doing all those years when the GOP wasn’t. It is not too late, as many people who’ve stopped voting and lost their registration may want to sign on again. If the GOP doesn’t get to them, someone else will.

    I think it is time for the party leadership to get out there on the streets and talk to real people.

    This is what we have to do if we want to get rid of this very bad law.

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 September, 2015, 10:34

    More voter participation will never hurt a republic form of government

    Reply this comment
    • tmaddison
      tmaddison 24 September, 2015, 11:04

      A comment truly worthy of the Wonder Dog…

      I suppose if you needed a medical procedure, your opinion is that taking a vote of all your neighbors would be better than taking a vote of “only your neighbors who are qualified to practice medicine”?

      Oh… maybe it IS important that people making a decision are actually qualified to make that decision – meaning interested in doing that to the point where they’ve taken steps to educate themselves and take action?

      If someone does not have even the minimal level of interest in voting required to register, why should we badger them into voting – on something they don’t even care about enough to take those steps?

      This idea that “more voting is always better” is ridiculous because it completely fails to account for the fact that it’s quality that matters, not quantity.

      Next time you need an operation, let us know how it goes when you take a vote of your neighbors and proceed based on that.

      Best of luck with that…

      Reply this comment
      • Rex the Wonder Dog!
        Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 September, 2015, 15:40

        Oh… maybe it IS important that people making a decision are actually qualified to make that decision/b

        So according to you, and YOUR “logic,” only those that meet your intelligence test should be able to vote. Yes!!… great IDEA Einstein, why didn’t I think of that sooner!

        Reply this comment
        • tmaddison
          tmaddison 24 September, 2015, 15:58

          No, Rex, because only someone truly stupid would say that. Good thing I didn’t.

          Hmmm… WHO did?

          What I said – very clearly – is “If someone does not have even the minimal level of interest in voting required to register, why should we badger them into voting – on something they don’t even care about enough to take those steps?”

          Are you seriously going to try to make a case that someone who doesn’t care enough to go through the minimal process of registering has actually taken the time to investigate the issues, gain a full understanding of them, and will then vote in an informed an educated manner?

          What world do you live in again?

          Reply this comment
          • Rex the Wonder Dog!
            Rex the Wonder Dog! 24 September, 2015, 22:28

            No- what you said was Oh… maybe it IS important that people making a decision are actually qualified to make that decision

            And what I pointed out to your pea sized brain was who are you to decide WHO is “qualified” to vote…now run along back to Mommy’s basement in your Batman jammies to play x-box, and leave the intelligent comments to the big boys.

        • Teddy
          Teddy 26 September, 2015, 09:19


          It’s probably obvious to most out here but Rex, AKA “the poodle” isn’t the smartest girl out here….

          the mngmnt.

          Reply this comment
  5. surfcitybob
    surfcitybob 24 September, 2015, 10:38

    Now we need a law and funding for drivers to take people to the locations to vote.
    As for me, after “Top Two” was enacted, I only vote on propositions, not people.

    Reply this comment
  6. Nancy K
    Nancy K 24 September, 2015, 11:04

    I thought the Dems called it a “poll tax” when the Voter ID laws came about due to the unwieldy requirements (like having to get yourself to the DMV) in order to get one. AB 1461 ALSO requires you to get to the DMV.

    Reply this comment
    • tmaddison
      tmaddison 24 September, 2015, 16:02

      Yup – typical of the convoluted logic that happens when someone is trying to spin something based on their political views, rather than just “thinking it through logically.”

      Exactly – if getting to a DMV to get an ID was too onerous, how can getting to a DMV to……. get an ID (so you can be automatically registered) now acceptable?

      In reality, this is really simple. The Constitution requires that only citizens can vote.

      If you can tell me how someone validating registration at a polling place can tell if you’re a citizen or not without looking at ID, I’d love to hear it.

      I guess in the Democratic view, “you must be the John Smith I see on our voter rolls because you SAY you’re John Smith and you LOOK like a John Smith” are good enough?

      Reply this comment
  7. Dave
    Dave 24 September, 2015, 12:55

    Why don’t we just attach a voter registration card to birth certificates and elementary school graduation diplomas and get it over with? And please, Democrats, for once be honest and forthright about WHY you want to relax registration standards and procedures. You, too, Governor when you sign the bill.

    Reply this comment
  8. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 24 September, 2015, 17:54

    To make it more easier for illegal aliens to vote Dirty Demaccrats

    Reply this comment
    • Ulysses Uhaul
      Ulysses Uhaul 25 September, 2015, 15:25

      Newbie always resort to vicious name calling. Use some decourm on CWD. This not the bowling alley in Bellflower!

      Reply this comment
      • Dude
        Dude 25 September, 2015, 15:33

        Which did you find more offensive, illegal aliens or dirty democrats. Both hit the bullseye

        Reply this comment
        • Ulysses Uhaul
          Ulysses Uhaul 25 September, 2015, 21:57

          Newbies always drop off. We wear em out with fair and balanced posts , meds reminders and deserved chastisement.

          Reply this comment
          • afrequentreader
            afrequentreader 30 September, 2015, 11:45

            fair and balanced replies aren’t typically the lexicon of the lefties rebutting the righties around here…I see it all the time. no examples necessary as they are posted daily. 😉

  9. desmond
    desmond 26 September, 2015, 18:23

    I think that it would be cool to let anyone vote as many times as they want, wherever they want in Cal. Let us dispose of the voting repression issue forever. Have everything online and Put votting machines in bars, casinos, Baja, Juarez, porta potties. In fact the porta pottie would be a good symbol. While your flushing, pull this lever too. Vote Democratic.

    Reply this comment

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