Brown signs automatic voter registration

Denise Cross / flickr

Denise Cross / flickr

Secretary of State Alex Padilla has succeeded in his quest to automatically register Californians to vote.

Partisan privileges

The bill he sponsored, passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, touched off a fresh round of controversy over the wisdom and benefits of the approach to increasing turnout, which in California has sunken to historic lows. Last year, the state’s midterm elections mustered a 42 percent turnout, as NPR observed.

Recent polling by the Public Policy Institute of California indicated that, while two thirds of respondents supported the legislation, “49 percent lean toward the Democratic Party and 22 percent toward the Republican Party; 29 percent lean toward neither party or are unsure.” The imbalance has led many Republicans to express frustration that Democrats were supporting automatic registration for their own benefit. Slightly complicating the picture, however, the PPIC poll also indicated an ideological tilt to the right among unregistered adults: “37 percent are conservative, 31 percent are liberal, and 31 percent are moderate.”

Easing the vote

Proponents of the law argued that its mechanics were straightforward and efficient. “Eligible citizens are registered to vote when they show up at a Department of Motor Vehicles office to obtain a driver’s license or state ID,” as the Huffington Post explained. “The DMV gives the eligible voter a chance to opt out if they prefer not to register. If the person does not opt out, the DMV electronically transfers their voter registration information to the Secretary of State’s office, rather than making election officials enter data by hand from paper registration forms.”

“Citizens should not be required to opt-in to their fundamental right to vote,” Padilla said in a statement. “We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process. The right to vote should be no different.” Voters, NPR noted, “retain the right to opt out, cancel or change party affiliation at any time,” adding that Padilla’s office pegged the number of eligible but unregistered potential California voters at 6.6 million.

Brown signed the bill in conjunction with a suite of others, including “a bill permitting county elections officials to offer conditional registration and provisional voting at satellite locations during the 14 days immediately preceding election day,” another that will install secure ballot drop boxes “at shopping malls, libraries and other spots,” and one billing the cost of election recounts to the state, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Rights and risks

Together, the new laws were intended, the governor’s office said, “to help improve elections and expand voter rights and access in California.”

But critics said the law wouldn’t properly distinguish between citizens and noncitizens during the registration process — a point of contention amid the ongoing debate over efforts to reduce the legal consequences of unlawful entry into the state. Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, warned that state databases “lack the necessary safeguards to keep noncitizens off the voter rolls,” according to The Washington Times. True the Vote spokesman Logan Churchwell went further, the Times added, asserting that California officials “specifically chose not to make noncitizen license holders searchable in their DMV database.”

On Fox News, Judge Andrew Napolitano, a libertarian commentator, raised the specter of mass voting by noncitizens. “So if you are an illegal alien in California, get a driver’s license, register to vote, you can vote in local, state and federal elections in California and those votes count,” he said.

But other libertarians have claimed that the changes would heighten virtually the opposite sort of risk. The American Civil Liberties Union joined Republican lawmakers in opposing the bill. “Since California’s DMV now issues driver’s licenses to immigrants who are living in the country illegally, the group fears those drivers will be registered to vote mistakenly, risking their ability to stay in the country,” reported the San Jose Mercury News. “State and federal laws strictly forbid illegal immigrants from voting.”

The bill, passed as Assembly Bill 1461 and authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, will take effect this coming January.

14 comments

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  1. Dude
    Dude 13 October, 2015, 13:48

    The sole purpose of this Democrat scheme/farce is to create a new category of Democrat voters. Nobody’s being fooled.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dave
    Dave 13 October, 2015, 15:01

    Next they’ll be handing out Big Macs and 60 ounce Big Gulps at the polls to entice newly minted motor voter “citizens”. This automatic voter registration will produce even lower voter turnouts, likely dipping to 35 percent or less statewide in non-Presidential years.

    Reply this comment
    • Rex the Wonder Dog!
      Rex the Wonder Dog! 13 October, 2015, 18:55

      Next they’ll be handing out Big Macs and 60 ounce Big Gulps at the polls to entice newly minted motor voter “citizens”.

      OMD- that is such an awesome idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Reply this comment
  3. Hank de Carbonel
    Hank de Carbonel 13 October, 2015, 17:40

    Where oh where can we find a great seer ,a visionary a true believer for our salvation which will not arrive without sacrifice and great tribute? Of course the reward is in the future beyond our lifetimes. Not to worry Jerry the Delusional has the answers and needs not be asked to rule. A madman how refreshing.

    Reply this comment
    • eck
      eck 16 October, 2015, 19:14

      Madmen are ruling in CA, Brown among them. You might want to think seriously about leaving CA, Hank. I have thought about it.
      “So if you are an illegal alien in California, get a driver’s license, register to vote, you can vote in local, state and federal elections in California and those votes count” – this says it all. Bet a zillion that’s exactly what will happen.
      A transparent move by Gonzalez (hmmm, of Mexican descent) to further solidify the far left Democrat conquering of this once glorious state.

      Reply this comment
  4. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 13 October, 2015, 22:21

    As a certian bumper sticker a few years ago read CALIFORNIA NEEDS A BOWN OUT

    Reply this comment
  5. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 13 October, 2015, 22:23

    I ment to say CALIFORNAI NEEDS A BROWN OUT

    Reply this comment
  6. Mr. Whistle
    Mr. Whistle 16 October, 2015, 16:06

    Say It Ain’t So……………….
    Sadly, Assembly Bill 1461 Motor Voter Registration passed.
    Moonbeam signed it, and now is law.
    But, folks reading this and commenting know full well this was nothing but a DEMOCRAT voter drive – pushed and authored by Democrats for Democrats to increase their stronghold…….
    If anybody thinks otherwise, well we are doomed.
    Sadly, but not unusual, it was a Majority Party vote pretty much along party lines save 1 or 2 who supported or opposed.

    The REAL question is WHY does the legislature have to create, mandate, and pass a bill that all legal voters have a right to do?
    If somebody is so damn lazy to do the simple process of voter registration, then they shouldn’t vote in the first place. It costs nothing, takes a few minutes and is done.
    DO WE REALLY WANT PEOPLE THAT ARE SO LAZY THEY CAN’T EVEN DO THIS ON THEIR OWN, A KEY TO VOICE TO THEIR OPINION IS THE PROCESS OF VOTING?
    I say no. New we will end up with folks that will vote on the basis of 30 second sound bites just prior to an election, a process the Democrats just drool over……………
    I am embarrassed to be a Californian over this law. A true Nanny process to cater to the lazy, just plain dumb, or don’t care folks that will vote without study of the issues……….
    I want to throw up…..
    Argh!
    Reminder. Seems to me it was just yesterday that 10% of our State Senate was in jail, on trial, under investigation for fraud, or other issues relating to the opposite of their sworn statement to uphold the laws of this state………… Need I say more?

    Reply this comment
    • Dude
      Dude 16 October, 2015, 17:14

      Wrong. Moonbeam isn’t catering to “lazy people”. This action has one purpose; To allow illegal aliens to vote. Period.

      Reply this comment
  7. desmond
    desmond 16 October, 2015, 17:13

    Giving High school diplomas with the driver license is a natural. Think of the possibilities, a paycheck from the state, pension, coupons for sexual favors from trained llamas.

    Reply this comment
  8. Fireman
    Fireman 18 October, 2015, 14:25

    This will give back California to Mexico ! Strange how this happened right after Obama was in Calif. Does it sound like It has Obamas fingerprints on it ?

    Reply this comment
    • Dude
      Dude 18 October, 2015, 14:52

      Of course it has Oblowme’s fingerprints on it. He’s anti-American and an ant-white racist. He’s also said that hernias doesn’t like the U.S. Constitution and would replace it with one like Spain’s, which has a constitutional monarchy. Based on the contempt he continually shows for our democracy, the “Monarchy” aspect of Spain’s government is very appealing to his royal pompessness.

      Reply this comment

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