California Moves To “Automatic Voter Registration”

California has approved state legislation to change its voter registration process into an “opt out” exchange – with policy and political implications.

The new California law fits along similar lines with legislation passed by the Maryland House of Delegates in the 2016 session. That bill was substantially amended in the Senate after an initial vote failed, and the resulting bill was substantially tempered from the original proposal. See earlier Conduit Street coverage on the Maryland legislation.

The Washington Post‘s coverage of the new California law emphasizes the importance of the administrative implementation in how far-reaching the policy may become:

California recently passed the New Motor Voter Act, a law designed to register eligible residents to vote by default when they use the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), unless they decline. Other states have or are considering similar laws. But because of California’s diversity and size — the 2016 population was 39.2 million and climbing — the Golden State’s law garnered special interest when it passed last fall.

In a new report, we look at the law’s likely effect on the demographics of California’s electorate, and at the number of new potential voters it might register in its first year. We find that supporters are right to see great promise in the law, but how the law is implemented will be far more important than many have suggested.

Read the full Post analysis.

Visit the Public Policy Institute of California report online.

Read MACo’s session-ending wrap-up of elections legislation.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties