Same-Day Voter Registration Comes to California

Good news for all of you procrastinators out there. This week Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will permit voters to register on Election Day. Say goodbye to the days of having to register 15 days prior. But heed this warning: Do not wait until November 6 to register to vote this election cycle; the bill, AB 1436, will take effect in 2014, at the earliest.

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Assemblyman Mike Feuer (D) of Los Angeles sponsored the bill. California Common Cause, a non-profit organization pushing for, among other things, increased civic engagement, has long advocated for same day voter registration.

Governor Brown's decision to sign AB 1436 sets him apart from other governors throughout the country, who have signed laws making it more difficult for citizens to exercise their fundamental right to vote. But California is not alone in allowing voters to register on the same day as the election -- ten other states permit some kind of same-day registration.

The passage of same day voter registration in California comes on the heels of a new system allowing voters to register to vote online.

The debate over laws that make it easier to vote tend to fall predictably along party lines. Democrats advocate for laws like same-day voter registration, arguing that they increase civic engagement. Republicans, on the other hand, oppose such measures, contending that could lead to fraud.

So what's next for California? Well, now that we can register to vote online on Election Day, the next logical step is online voting. That strikes me as still being quite far off. Online voting brings up a host of technological issues which will have to be answered before it is implemented on a large-scale basis.

For now last minute planners can rejoice in their new ability to register and vote on the same day.

Jessica Levinson writes about the intersection of law and government every Monday. She is an Associate Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School. Read more of her posts here.

About the Author

Jessica Levinson is an Associate Clinical Professor at Loyola Law School. She focuses on the intersection of law and government.
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