California's Online Voter Registration

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INTERACTIONS

A study conducted by the Center for Latino Policy Research (CLPR) at UC Berkeley found that California’s online voter registration broadened the base of low to middle-income voters. The study concluded:

“Advocates for online registration argued that it would make the registration process more open and accessible to a broader range of voters. Our analysis suggests this reform was successful in that regard.”

Researchers Lisa García Bedolla and Verónica N. Vélez analyzed San Diego County and Alameda County. Both counties had the largest number of online registrants in California and represent demographic diversity.

In San Diego County, 71 percent of Latinos, 57 percent of whites, and 50 percent of Asian-Americans who used online registration lived in areas with a median income below $75,000 a year.

The numbers are similar in Alameda County; 65 percent of Latinos, 52 percent of whites, and 44 percent of Asian-Americans who used online registration came from areas with median incomes under $75,000 a year.

Leading up to the implementation of online voter registration, there were concerns about it disenfranchising lower-income voters. However, a much smaller proportion of online registrants lived in areas with higher income brackets:

“This strongly suggests that online registration is not simply being used by affluent, already likely voters, but rather that it was less affluent eligible voters who most took advantage of opportunity to register online.”

The CLPR mapped its data for both counties:

Online Voter Registration Map SD and AL
Credit: Center for Latino Policy Research

A total of 839,297 Californians took advantage of online voter registration in 2012. The state’s system was implemented on September 19, 2012, giving Californians a five-week window to register online.

Initial statistics showed that 61.5 percent of those using online voter registration were under the age of 35. As more people become of voting age, online registration likely to further increase youth turnout.

Sixteen states currently have online voter registration systems. Arizona was the first state to implement the process, which began in 2002.

There are 18.2 million Californians registered to vote, an increase of around 900,000 voters from 2008. Based on the CLPR study, California’s implementation of online voter registration has already shown an impact in encouraging turnout among voting blocs with a history of low-propensity.

Californian’s can register to vote online HERE

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Leave a Comment
  1. Johnny Ritchie Yes.
  2. Keith Attarian I'm all for bringing voting into the 21st century as long as online registration is checked against a citizen database for eligibility.
  3. Hannah Woodard I registered through my college last year and they screwed it up, causing me not to be allowed to vote, which I didn't find out until election day. I am all for making the system easier and more accessible, and online seems like a good solution to me..
  4. Jerry Hamilton How do you know who is who with this system? How do you know if the person is legal and over the age of 18?
  5. Simon Mayeski As implemented in the state of California, there is an automated system of database checks for proper validation for Online Voter Registration (OVR), starting with a California Drivers License or non-driver California ID, a county voter registration official will likely have to approve registration and in certain cases first-time registrants will need to provide Voter ID at the polling place - (this is the ONLY situation where voter ID is required at the polls in California.) In the short period prior to the November 2012 elections when OVR was first implemented nearly 3/4 million new voters registered online (http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/california-record-number-voters-register-online/story?id=17621739#.UVR2MRyISVo) and over a million in total used the system, many to update their records, like filing a change of address. California Common Cause (http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=6391549&ct=12325435) was a prime mover on this effort (I am a state board member and volunteer for Common Cause and have served as a paid consultant for election issues.)
  6. Alex Gauthier well put Simon. I know I used the online system to change my registration since I had moved since 2010. It was very helpful, for me at least.
  7. Barbara Giordano Voter tampering is easier so not thrilled w/ it.
  8. Katherine Hunt Arabis Yes, it should be very easy to register and vote. As EASY as possible.
  9. Anthony Byrd Yes, but that would poo poo all the voter ID crowd and give them something else to whine about. Can't have everyone voting right?
  10. James M Bennett In 2008, when Obama was at the top of the ticket, the increase in black voter turnout was higher in Indiana than it was in Illinois - Obama's home state. Indiana had a voter ID requirement at the polls, Illinois did not.
15 comments
Keith Attarian
Keith Attarian

I'm all for bringing voting into the 21st century as long as online registration is checked against a citizen database for eligibility.

Hannah Woodard
Hannah Woodard

I registered through my college last year and they screwed it up, causing me not to be allowed to vote, which I didn't find out until election day. I am all for making the system easier and more accessible, and online seems like a good solution to me..

Jerry Hamilton
Jerry Hamilton

How do you know who is who with this system? How do you know if the person is legal and over the age of 18?

Anthony Byrd
Anthony Byrd

Yes, but that would poo poo all the voter ID crowd and give them something else to whine about. Can't have everyone voting right?

James M Bennett
James M Bennett

Has any effort been made to determine the percentage of people registered to vote who are not eligible? A voter registration system should have the dual objectives of facilitating registration of eligible voters and screening out those who are not eligible. Allowing an ineligible voter to vote is just as insidious as denying the franchise to an eligible voter because it dilutes the votes of voters who are eligible. Many voters have been caught, for example, because they indicated on jury duty questionnaires that they were not citizens. Either they lied under oath on the voter registration form, or they lied on the jury duty questionnaire. That point should not be lost in the enthusiasm to facilitate voter registration.

Lucas Eaves
Lucas Eaves

16 states allow online registration. This remains way too low. The benefits of such system compared to the costs are so apparent that i do not understand why ,in today's online age, every state has not adopted the system yet.

Simon Mayeski
Simon Mayeski

As implemented in the state of California, there is an automated system of database checks for proper validation for Online Voter Registration (OVR), starting with a California Drivers License or non-driver California ID, a county voter registration official will likely have to approve registration and in certain cases first-time registrants will need to provide Voter ID at the polling place - (this is the ONLY situation where voter ID is required at the polls in California.)

In the short period prior to the November 2012 elections when OVR was first implemented nearly 3/4 million new voters registered online (http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/News/california-record-number-voters-register-online/story?id=17621739#.UVR2MRyISVo) and over a million in total used the system, many to update their records, like filing a change of address. California Common Cause (http://www.commoncause.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=6391549&ct=12325435) was a prime mover on this effort (I am a state board member and volunteer for Common Cause and have served as a paid consultant for election issues.)

James M Bennett
James M Bennett

In 2008, when Obama was at the top of the ticket, the increase in black voter turnout was higher in Indiana than it was in Illinois - Obama's home state. Indiana had a voter ID requirement at the polls, Illinois did not.

Michael Higham
Michael Higham

14 more states have legislation circulating to implement online registration. I still think it'd be beneficial for all 50 states to do so, it's just a matter of time.

Alex Gauthier
Alex Gauthier

well put Simon. I know I used the online system to change my registration since I had moved since 2010. It was very helpful, for me at least.

James M Bennett
James M Bennett

Thanks Alex.

That piece hits many of the highlights, including proof of citizenship and voter ID at the polls to prevent fraud. In New Jersey we do not have voter ID, but mark the books "voter ID required" where ID has not been shown at the point of registration. Voter ID at the polls would cut down on voter impersonation.

One abuse I saw is candidate workers who collect absentee votes at nursing homes. That is a topic for another day.