State Senator Leland Yee on Wednesday announced the launch of an online voter registration system at a press conference in Redwood City.
Yee authored the measure allowing eligible California voters whose signature is already on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles to submit their voter registration forms to county elections offices electronically by visiting RegisterToVote.ca.gov.
Californians voters have until October 22 to register for the November election.
Yee said the measure comes in stark contrast to controversial voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and Ohio, among other states aimed at reducing fraud, according to their proponents. Opponents say these measures are really voter-suppression drives disguised as laws that target problems that doesn’t exist, and will have the intended effect of keeping minorities and the poor away from voting booths.
“This is an incredibly exciting day for California and for our democracy,” Yee said. “While some states are suppressing the rights of voters, here in California we are proudly increasing participation.”
Yee said the online registration system is an example of ways government can bring more voters to the polls, noting that just 44 percent of eligible California voters participated in the 2008 presidential race. He said six million eligible voters haven’t yet registered.
“As a model example of a democratic government, it is embarrassing that our voter participation rates are as low as they are,” Yee said. “We need to find new ways to increase voter participation and I am hopeful that making it easier to register will help get more people involved.”
County election officials say the plan will reduce costs and eliminate administrative errors. Arizona, which implemented a similar program five years ago, reports a decrease of up to 83 cents per registration, and a savings of more than $1 million alone in Mariposa County.
“Everyone wins,” San Mateo County's Chief Election Officer Mark Church said.
“Senator Yee’s law will not only increase voter registration, it will increase the accuracy of the registration information, and reduce election costs.”
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