DON'T PANIC! This blog is authored by Seniors at Aragon High School, San Mateo, CA.
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.
Questions: 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.