While a growing number of states across the country are taking measures to make it more difficult to vote, Gov. Jerry Brown just made voter registration in California a breeze.
Well, maybe not a breeze—the DMV is involved—but it’s a monumental step forward in eliminating excuses for not registering.
Over the weekend, Brown signed a bill into law that now automatically registers people to vote if they have a license or state identification card. The decision is expected to boost voter turnout, which languished at 42.2 percent last November. An estimated 6.6 million Californians are believed to be unregistered.
In a report from the Sacramento Bee, Democratic leaders across the state hailed the decision as a giant step forward for the electoral process, making California a model for other states to follow.
“In a free society, the right to vote is fundamental,” said Secretary of State Alex Padilla. “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.”
Rollout of the new registration program will coincide with the launch of VoteCal, a new state voter database, which is expected to ensure non-citizens who receive a driver’s license or ID card are not included in the voter registration process.
This hasn’t stopped some critics, however, from suggesting the new law paves the way for “state-sanctioned voter fraud.” Such claims overlook the fact that the DMV’s database notes non-citizens who have acquired a license.
For those who really just hate the idea of voting or even registering, an opt-out provision is available.