California adopts automatic voter registration

Instead of an opt-in provision at the DMV, eligible Californians will now have to opt out of being registered to vote if they wish to remain unregistered, thanks to a law Gov. Jerry Brown signed today, which is set to take effect ahead of the 2016 presidential primary. It was enacted in response to extremely low 2014 turnout in the state — well below 50%.

Los Angeles Times:

“The New Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens,” [Secretary of State Alex] Padilla said Saturday. “Citizens should not be required to opt in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”

In general, this seems to me like a good idea. I do wonder how well it will work in practice if a lot of people move around (even just to a neighboring precinct) without updating their license and voter registration.

I also wonder how many people who weren’t registered before will now take the opportunity to turn out, but perhaps the campaigns will be able to target Never-Voteds more effectively by mail, phone, and canvassing now that there will be a database identifying them.

This legislation could also prove important for unexpected reasons given an upcoming Supreme Court case concerning redistricting by number of residents versus by number of voters (or other alternative metrics).

California will also be increasing options for early voting ballot dropoffs and vote-by-mail, also in an effort to increase turnout.

Arsenal For Democracy’s radio show debated automatic voter registration in the first segment of Episode 131 from June 2015.


Here’s to Jerry Brown! (On to Term 4.)

jerry-brownJerry Brown, who served his first two four-year terms as governor of California from 1975 to 1983, just after the Reagan governorship, was elected to a third, non-consecutive term in the 2010 elections.

Although Brown was regarded as a bit erratic and pie-in-the-sky the first time around (and in his three failed presidential bids), he proved himself to be a dependable and strong leader in Sacramento over the past three years.

Since Jerry Brown is the oldest governor in the state’s history and sixteen years would be a lot of governing, it wasn’t totally clear initially whether the Democrat would be seeking re-election to a fourth term. But he quickly began amassing enough money to make it obvious he would — and to deter most potential rivals from challenging him. Gov. Brown just announced today that he would be running in the open/top-two primary for governor.

So far he’s got pretty minor challengers from the Republicans. They have “interesting” perspectives, according to what the New York Times has been reporting so far.

First, there’s Neel Kashkari, who orchestrated the TARP bank bailouts while at the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008. He has reportedly raised a cool million — to Brown’s SEVENTEEN million dollars. Here was his insightful critique of the governor: “Californians can’t afford another four years of Governor Brown’s failed leadership.”

Yes, let’s recap that “failed leadership”:

The state had a deficit of more than $25 billion when he took office in 2011 and now has a surplus. The governor has also been working to persuade his fellow Democrats who control the Legislature to stock away money for a rainy-day fund.

Next in line is East L.A.’s State State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, with about $500,000 raised, who helpfully explained that if nominated against Brown, it would be a “showdown between socialism and freedom.”

Again, we’re talking about Third-Term Brown who last month delivered a state budget with a $4.2 BILLION projected surplus, even after proposing an 8.5% spending increase, a $1.6 billion rainy day fund, and $11 billion to pay back outstanding debts and liabilities. So yeah. Basically socialism. Nailed it. No fiscal responsibility anywhere to be found!
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