Californians Soon Can Register to Vote Online

August 24, 2012

Yee-authored law allows Californians to register for upcoming presidential election via the internet

SACRAMENTO – Today, the county elections offices will receive software to begin implementation of California’s online voter registration system.  The system is expected to be available for the public to register to vote starting in early September – about six weeks prior to the October 22 registration deadline for the November 6 presidential election.

Online voter registration is made possible by a law passed last year by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo).

“I am thrilled to see that we are finally using technology to help people participate in our democracy,” said Yee. “Online registration will help increase voter participation, especially among young people and other traditionally disenfranchised citizens.”

“Senator Yee’s law will not only increase voter registration, it will increase the accuracy of the registration information, and reduce election costs,” said Mark Church, San Mateo County's Chief Election Officer. “Everyone wins.”

Secretary of State Debra Bowen told the Ventura County Star, “It's really huge. I think it will be extremely popular.”

“With the launch of online voter registration, California voters can register with ease and use 21st century technology to get involved in our democracy,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director for California Common Cause.

“Online voter registration improves democracy by improving access, increasing accuracy, and cutting costs,” said Dean C. Logan, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

Yee’s SB 397 also put into place greater safeguards to fraud than the current paper registration process.
 
Under the new law, citizens will input their voter information online and the county elections office will use the voter’s signature from the Department of Motor Vehicles to verify authenticity. That signature can then be matched against the voter’s signature at the polling place. Currently, signatures at the polling place are only compared to the paper registration signature, which potentially allows for greater occurrences of fraud.

SB 397 also minimizes the practice of individuals being paid to collect voter registration cards and instead sending in fake names in order to fulfill a quota or to make more money.

County elections officers also plan on seeing a cost-savings and an elimination of administrative errors from incorrect data entry of the paper registration. By using online registration, the voter will enter their own information helping to eliminate spelling errors or an election office being unable to read the paper registration. The new system will also save time and money on data entry by election clerks. 

In Arizona, implementation of online voter registration saw a decrease of up to 83 cents per a registration for some counties. Mariposa County - the largest election jurisdiction in Arizona - has saved over $1 million since implementing online registration 5 years ago.

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Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008