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Californians Can Register to Vote Online

by Matt Metzner, published

Californians can now register to vote online without leaving home, knowing that they will be able to participate in the November election.

The development process began with CA Senate Bill 397 by Sen. Leland Yee, D - San Francisco that was signed into law in October 2011. The law required that the California Secretary of State and the Department of Motor Vehicles work together to ensure that the process would be legally sound and convenient.

The DMV and Secretary of State had to work together because all voters must sign their registration forms. With prior online voter registration efforts in California, the voter would fill out their form, print and sign, then mail the form to their county registrar.

By working with the DMV, the California Secretary of State can pull signatures from drivers license databases, match them with submitted online registration forms, and create a complete registration application.

Californians who register to vote online can simply fill out the form and click ‘Submit’ on the page, without printing, signing, and mailing a document.

California joins 11 other states that allow residents to register to vote online. The process has been an immediate success and should have a big impact on the November election. During the first 12 hours that the process was available over 3,000 Californians registered to vote online.

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen stated, “Today the internet replaces the mailbox for thousands of Californians wanting to register to vote.” Recognizing that voter turnout is extremely low, allowing Californians to register to vote online removes a barrier to entry. Californians should find the online process much easier than using paper forms.

With the online registration tool in place, new districts, and an open primary, California’s general election should look much different than it has in the past. Citizen-drawn district lines created more competitive races, even pitting incumbents against one another.

Open primaries allowed more people to participate within the primary election, instead of the race being decided before the majority of residents vote in November. With online registration we should see increased participation and higher turnout in November as well. All three changes are making California’s elections more competitive and should increase voter participation.

The online voter registration form can be found here.

Californians must register to vote prior to October 22 to participate in the November election.

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