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.


October 1, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 101


Topics: UAE and Russia milestones for women in air and space, illegal contraception co-pays in the US, death penalty in Kenya case, Big Ideas in voting and internet technology, Thai government’s food robot. People: Bill, Persephone, Nate. Produced: September 29th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– The 1st UAE female combat pilot, the 4th female cosmonaut, CVS charging illegal co-pays on contraception, and more
– Big Idea: Could the U.S. use the goal of secure internet voting as a moonshot project to strengthen internet security in general? What interim measures should be taken to make voting easier?
– Why Thailand’s government is trying to build a robot to measure Thai food authenticity

Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya:
Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya – AFD 101
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech:
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech – AFD 101
Part 3 – Thai Food:
Part 3 – Thai Food – AFD 101

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: Russia & UAE: A big week for women in air and space
Gawker: Fox News Host Calls Female Fighter Pilot “Boobs On the Ground” Congresswoman Speier Discovers CVS Illegally Charged 11,000 Women for Contraceptives
AFD: Kenya sentence an urgent reminder of the need for legal abortion

Segment 2

Wikipedia: Electronic voting in Estonia
ThinkProgress: Georgia State Senator Complains That Voting Is Too Convenient For Black People

Segment 3

New York Times: You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the Judge
The Globalist: Exporting Japanese Food Culture


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