As Some States Suppress Voter Rights, California Increases Participation - Launches Online Registration

September 19, 2012

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

SACRAMENTO/REDWOOD CITY – Senator Leland Yee, along with California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Mark Church and the other 57 county elections officials, today launched California’s online voter registration system, which allows Californians to register to vote via the internet or a mobile device.

“This is an incredibly exciting day for California and for our democracy,” said Yee, who authored the law to allow online registration. “While some states are suppressing the rights of voters, here in California we are proudly increasing participation.”

“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.”

“Today the internet replaces the mailbox for thousands of Californians wanting to register to vote,” said Bowen. “Online or on paper, California’s laws and procedures for processing voter registration applications are identical. The information provided in an online application still must be verified by a count elections official before an applicant can be added to the voter rolls.”

The new online voter registration system will allow citizens whose signature is already on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles to submit their voter registration form to their county elections office electronically via the internet or a mobile device by visiting RegisterToVote.ca.gov.

Californians have until October 22 to register for the November election.

“As a model example of a democratic government, it is embarrassing that our voter participation rates are as low as they are,” said Yee. “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.”

In the last presidential election in 2008, only 44 percent of eligible California citizens voted. In fact, more than 6 million Californians are eligible to vote and yet are not even registered to do so.

The new system 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. Maricopa County - the largest election jurisdiction in Arizona - has saved over $1 million since implementing online registration 5 years ago.

What others are saying:

“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.

“We want to thank Senator Leland Yee for authoring the legislation to establish online voter registration, and Secretary of State Debra Bowen for working to quickly implement online voter registration this fall,” said Daniela Uribe, CALPIRG New Voters’ Project. “Our democracy depends on an engaged citizenry. Online voter registration is a no-brainer – it will make it easier for Californians to participate in our elections, while saving our election officials time and money.” 

“We are overjoyed with the opportunity that Online Voter Registration presents to students,” said Raymond Parenti-Kurttila, Vice President of External Affairs for San Francisco State University Associated Students. “This is an exciting development that takes civic engagement into the 21st century.”

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