California New Motor Voter Act Sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla Clears First Committee


SACRAMENTO – Legislation sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla to create a more effective Motor Voter registration program in California was approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee today.

 The California New Motor Voter Act—Assembly Bill (AB) 1461 jointly authored by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento)—would allow data already being collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to be provided to the Secretary of State to register eligible voters. Modeled after the recent “New Motor Voter” law in Oregon, AB 1461 could add millions of additional citizens to California voter rolls.

 “There are nearly 6.6 million eligible but unregistered California citizens,” Secretary Padilla said. “I am committed to helping register as many California citizens as possible. The California New Motor Voter Act will help us reach our goals of increased voter participation,” Padilla said. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Election Performance Index, California ranked 38th in voter registration in 2012.

 Under AB 1461, data already collected by the DMV would be provided by the Secretary of State to verify a citizen’s eligibility to vote. Those citizens who are deemed eligible to vote would have the option of selecting political party affiliation or opting not to register. The proposed law would continue to protect those covered by existing confidentiality policies, such as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Voters would retain their right to cancel their voter registration at any time.

 “AB 1461 would make California’s existing Motor Voter program more efficient and effective by seamlessly increasing voter registration,” Padilla said.

 In 1993, Congress enacted the National Voter Registration Act, or “Motor Voter” law, which requires the DMV and other public agencies that provide either public assistance or state services to people with disabilities to provide citizens an opportunity to register to vote.