New Motor Voter Act Clears Key Assembly Policy Committees
SACRAMENTO – Three bills sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla were approved today by the Assembly Committee on Elections and Redistricting.
The California New Motor Voter Act - AB 1461 authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), would register every eligible citizen who goes to a Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office to get a driver’s license or renew one, potentially adding millions of new registered voters to California’s voter rolls. The bill will next be considered by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
“More than 6 million California citizens are not registered to vote. The New Motor Voter Act would be a powerful tool to increase voter turnout by moving millions of California citizens onto our voter rolls,” said Secretary Padilla.
Registration has been a barrier to voting for millions of Californians. More than 40,000 people tried to register on Election Day in 2014. Unfortunately it was too late. “AB 1461 would make voter registration a seamless process for millions of California citizens and allow them to move from the sidelines to the voting booth,” said Secretary Padilla.
Data already being collected by the DMV would be provided to the Secretary of State’s Office after verifying a resident’s legal eligibility to vote. Voters would retain their right to opt out or cancel their voter registration at any time. The proposed law would continue to protect those covered by existing confidentiality policies, such as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
AB 1443, authored by Assemblymember Ed Chau (D- Monterey Park), would establish an advisory committee of language experts and election officials to advise the Secretary of State on ways to improve the voting experience for voters who speak limited English. The language advisory committee would advise the Secretary on best practices, would review translated materials, and provide perspectives from California's language minority communities.
“Every citizen has a right to a positive voting experience, regardless of their language preference,” Secretary Padilla said. “There are more than 200 unique languages spoken in California, and I am committed to ensuring that language barriers do not prevent California voters from participating in our elections and having their voice heard,” Padilla added.
AB 182, authored by Assemblymember Alejo, would build upon the current California Voting Rights Act (CVRA) by establishing a process for the public to challenge poorly drawn district boundaries. AB 182 would ensure that all voters are given a fair chance to elect representatives of their choice in district-based elections.
“California’s diversity is an asset that comes with great responsibility for policymakers,” Secretary Padilla said. As a result of the CVRA, dozens of school districts, community college districts and cities have moved or are moving from at-large to district based elections. However, moving from at-large elections to district elections is only an improvement if the new district boundaries are drawn fairly. Districts drawn inconsistent with the spirit of the CVRA can have the same negative impact on voter turnout and representation as at-large elections.
“AB 182 would help protect voters from poorly drawn districts that could have the same negative impact on voter turnout and equitable representation as at-large elections,” Secretary Padilla added.