Brown signs election day registration and voting bill

A woman registers to vote in Downtown Berkeley. September 25th marked the first National Voter Registration Day.
Kore Chan/Staff
A woman registers to vote in Downtown Berkeley. September 25th marked the first National Voter Registration Day.

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Gov. Jerry Brown signed multiple bills Monday aimed to simplify voting, including one that will allow for same-day voter registration in future elections.

Though same-day voter registration will not take effect immediately, AB 1436 — which allows for voters to both register and vote on Election Day — hopes to ease the voting process and increase turnout. The voting-centric bills come on the heels of online voter registration, which went into effect this month.

“Voting — the sacred right of every citizen — should be simple and convenient,” Brown said in a press release Monday. “While other states try to restrict voters with new laws that burden the process, California allows voters to register online—and even on Election Day.”

For this upcoming November election, Californians must register 15 days before the election, before the registration deadline on Oct. 22. After this bill becomes implemented at a later date, however, voters will be able to register and cast a provisional ballot on election day if they are confirmed eligible before votes are counted.

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin supported the bill and said it was a major step for allowing people, particularly students and younger demographics, to participate in democracy.

“Students are a very important part of our community, and it’s important that we ensure that they have a voice and exercise it,” he said.

Though Arreguin acknowledged the bill may increase the possibility of voter fraud, he said the benefits of making it easier for people to vote are incredibly “significant” and outweigh the risks.

“I think democracy is more important,” Arreguin said. “This is a bill that the state will have to work to implement, and fraud is one thing that will have to be addressed.”

AB 1436 will not be implemented until Secretary of State Debra Bowen certifies VoteCal, an official and consolidated statewide database of voter registration information. VoteCal’s launch has been delayed until at least 2015, according to a bill analysis of SB 397, a bill that allows for online voter registration to begin prior to VoteCal.

California will join nine other states to allow same-day voting during Election Day, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Maine.

UC Berkeley senior Jesus Galindo, who is involved with the ASUC Vote Coalition, also supported the bill and said that other states should adopt similar voter-friendly laws.

“I think it truly is going to have an impact on voter turnout, especially within minority communities,” he said. “It’s also a way of the government showing that they care, that they want people to register to vote.”

Contact Caroline Murphy at [email protected]