California Legislature Approves Election Day Registration

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On Thursday, the California State Senate passed a bill to allow Election Day Registration (EDR), which will allow citizens to register to vote up to and on the day of an election.

The bill, AB 1436, passed the State Assembly in May. The bill will now return to the Assembly for a final vote before going to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for final approval. However, if the bill does become law, which is likely, it will not take effect until 2016.

The passage of EDR by the California legislature goes against a national trend of making voter registration more difficult. Maine, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, Kansas, Alabama, Georgia and Arizona have put restrictions on voter registration through various means including limiting EDR, requiring identification for registration and making it more onerous for third-party individuals and groups that help people register, according to the Center for American Progress.

In 2011, citizens in Maine reversed the legislature’s elimination of EDR at the ballot box through the initiative process.

While California is attempting to ease voter restrictions with the passage of AB 1436, other states are going in the opposite direction with the intention of eliminating voter fraud. However, while voter fraud is not something to be taken lightly, statistics show that incidences of voter fraud are quite rare.

According to a study done by the Brennan Center for Justice, voter fraud is a rare occurrence, happening just 0.0009 percent of the time during the Washington State gubernatorial election in 2004, and just 0.00004 percent of the time in the 2004 election in Ohio.

Statistics show that EDR has a more profound effect on voting activity than does voter fraud. Allowing people to register to vote through Election Day brings about a seven percent increase in voter participation in the average state, according to a study done by Craig Leonard Brians of Virginia Tech and Bernard Grofman of UC Irvine.

In addition to the issue of voter participation, there is also the issue of constitutionality. Kansas, Alabama and Tennessee have passed laws that require citizens to present either a birth certificate or passport in order to register to vote. If citizens do not have the needed documentation to register, they are required to pay in order to procure a birth certificate, which the Center for American Progress calls “an almost certain violation of the 24th Amendment’s ban on poll taxes”.

Georgia, Texas and Alabama’s legislation restricting voter registration is currently under review by the Justice Department to determine if the laws comply with the Voting Rights Act.

It would appear that registration suppression is a clear violation of the spirit of the Voting Rights Act, at least. When President Johnson spoke before a Joint Session of Congress in 1965 to urge the passage of the Voting Rights Act, he said, “It is wrong—deadly wrong—to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country.”

While California has taken a step to encourage voter registration, and thus participation, the trend in several other states is to move in the opposite direction, making registration and democratic participation more difficult for citizens.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


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20 comments
moving in Chicago IL
moving in Chicago IL

Hello all, here every person is sharing these kinds of familiarity, thus it's pleasant to read this web site, and I used to pay a quick visit this website everyday.

Kirk Oakes
Kirk Oakes

So, if we make it harder for them, more people will vote?

***With great difficulty... I refrain from typing what comes to mind.***

Scot Douglas
Scot Douglas

Jeff, people don't value something that they don't have to work for, which is one of the reasons that so few people vote (there are others)

Michele Van Horn
Michele Van Horn

I wonder if they get all these new voters if they will also use them for jury duty?

Mark Van Horn
Mark Van Horn

Pick up anybody load on the bus drive um to the poll regester them feed um vote um. This is just wrong!

Jeff Yago
Jeff Yago

Peronally, I think that ALl US citizens should automatically be registered to vote by virtue of simply being a US citizen. All needs to happen is a system set up where their voter id is transferred to the locale where they live. Concerning the current situation, to have voters registering the day of... provided their citizenshep status and identity can be verified immediately, I have no issues. If verification is not immediately available, they should be allowed to vote only with provisional ballots until such time their status is validated.

Kirk Coleman
Kirk Coleman

NOBAMA 2012...........We can not afford 4 more years!!! VOTE ROMNEY/RYAN!!!!

Michele Van Horn
Michele Van Horn

since we are on the west coast they are hoping they can get Democrats to regrister- Jerry Brown you are an illegally placed governor, you have served too many terms accordingly to Calif law! We will all work to get more republicans & independants to register, the Chicago machine is not welcome in Calif

Jacquie Howard
Jacquie Howard

I wouldn't wait that long. When I moved to Maryland one of the first things I did was register to vote! :-)

Adam Luke
Adam Luke

My question would be whats the voter fraud in states with higher illegal immigration rates? TX, AZ and GA all have high undocumented worker populations. It would be interesting to see the statistics on states such as those.

Brandon Fallon
Brandon Fallon

Driving licenses, permits, or state-issued ID cards should suffice over birth certificates, SS cards, and passports. I can see people registering at one voting location, moving over to another one and re-registering to vote again. This may not happen and I'm sure there are checks for it, but I am all for EDR.