Monday, January 11, 2016

California's New Automatic Voting Registration

A California bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown amends the process of registration previously used in California. Formerly, any eligible voter would have to fill out a semi-tedious form online or on paper in order to register themselves. The problem with this is that it leaves the people up to the task of signing themselves up, something that few other countries attempt since most believe that voting should be the burden of the government, not the people. This issue can probably account for a portion of the blame for such low voter turnouts in addition to mobility issues or general apathy. 

To resolve this issue, the new bill, active on January 1st, allows any person who goes to the DMV to get/renew a driver's licence or to get a state ID to register to vote right then and there. The DMV will send personal information into the Secretary of State's office for verification and then registration. There is an option for anyone who doesn't want to vote to opt-out as well as an
understanding that nobody will be registered to vote without their knowledge. Many voting rights groups and Hillary Clinton have endorsed this bill and others like it in an effort to increase voter turnout by making registration more convenient to the average person.Other states have also considered such laws, Oregon being the first to actually pass one. Oregon's system is similar to California's, without the opt-out option. Seventeen other states also have proposed automatic voting pills.

Many defenders of bills such as this one claim that automatic voting makes for a more secure way of transporting and verifying information, since the information is coming from a reputable source rather than a paper form. It also helps in making voting a little more accessible, especially to the historically low turnout group of 18-24 year olds. This change could have an impact on the young adults going into the polls, even if it isn't substantial. Many teenagers wait until 18 to get their drivers licence now anyway; couldn't it benefit them to be registered right then?

I think that this bill is in the right direction. People must renew their driver's licences every five years anyways, so they will, without doubt, be waiting in that long line at the DMV. With this new system, people can kill two birds with one stone, and I think it will be relatively effective.

1) What do you think of this bill's overall ability to increase voter turnout? How could it be improved?
2) Do you think that the new bill could stand to increase the number of young people going to the polls in the 2016 election? Why or why not?
3) Explain some advantages/disadvantages of many states adopting laws such as this one. 

Huffington Post: Click Here
Image of Governor: Click here
LA Times: Click Here
Poly Post: Click Here
DMV Pic: Click Here


Shu Yang said...

Along with Brianna, I believe this bill is a step in the right direction in increasing voter turn out. Even with an opt out option, oftentimes, if a person does not care either which way, they will leave things the way they automatically were. For example, when registering for a license, there is a question that asks whether you would like to opt out of being an organ donor because in California, you are automatically considered an organ donor. An expansion on the topic of opting out of organ donation may be found at this link: Even though in the past, having to opt out instead of opt in to decisions means a larger increase in that decision, I do not think this bill will affect voter turn out too much. For many people who do not show up to vote, I doubt their deterrence is not being registered to vote. In other words, having to register to vote is not what prevents eligible voters from voting because if they truly wanted to have their voice heard, they would have registered without this bill.

I believe this bill may slightly increase the number of young people voting in the 2016 election; however, it will not be the only factor in that. As Generation Z (those born after 1993) are coming of age, social scientists are noting how we are a generation that actually largely cares and participates in social activism. More information may be found at this link: More attention to social activism in turn leads to higher participation in politics; therefore, as the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections approach, we cannot attribute an increase in younger voters to just this bill.

An automatic voter registration bill may be seen as an advantage for those strong advocaters of democracy. A true democracy should represent all eligible citizens, not just those who show up on voting day. By having citizens automatically register as voters when signing up for a driver's license or ID, makes voting appear to be a compulsory action. A disadvantage is this bill would cost the state money which could be used to fund other projects.

Alex Binsacca said...

I also agree that this bill is fantastic, that will definitely make voting much more convient and slightly increase the voter turnout. As we learned in class many people do not vote because of the inconveniences around even registering to vote. Therefore, this automatic registration is great. Plus, thanks to the fact that the people are renewing their licenses helps verify who they are, and helps put to rest the fears of voter fraud.

Like Shu I also think this will help increase the voter turnout in regards to the younger generation. However, I too also believe that it will take more than just one bill to help increase voter turnout drastically. For something such as voter turnout, it always take more than just one factor to help increase it. I think the sooner the children of the next generation get introduced to the news the more they will start to vote. Therefore, I think we should start making current events a bigger part of our education system.

As stated before the conviences are always gonna be a plus, and help increase the voter turnout. The fact that people do not have to go to different places, and leave their homes just to register makes things less complicated and more easier. The only issue I can see with this bill is the fact that the people are given the choice if they want to vote or not. Voting should be free of choice, not and obligation. Also the wait at the DMV will be an even bigger pain.