A bill to establish a statewide system for automatic voter registration (AVR) passed the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments on Monday. SB 583, Secure Voter Verification and Enrollment, authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), passed by a 4-1 vote.
The legislation will create an AVR system in which adults who have provided proof of U.S. citizenship during a DMV transaction will have their information provided automatically to the Secretary of State. Citizens who do not wish to register to vote may opt-out.
California began modernizing the voter registration system in 2018 with upgrades that expanded voter registration through an opt-in system. SB 583 will expand voter registration by developing and deploying an automated process for registering eligible voters through the DMV, while also providing enhanced protections for people who are ineligible to register.
“In our state there are an estimated 4.6 million U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote who have not yet registered,” said Senator Newman. ”Our obligation as the people’s elected representatives is to make the process simpler and more accessible for them.”
The type of “opt-out” system proposed by SB 583, also called a back-end AVR system, will help update voter rolls and ensure the maintenance of more accurate records by county registrars of voters, thereby streamlining the administration of elections while generating savings. When a registered voter provides new information, such as a change of name or updated address to the DMV, their voter registration will be updated automatically. Registrants will then be mailed a notice informing them of any changes and offering the capability to decline the update.
Accuracy will be improved, as the upgrades will avoid human error and increase protections by relying on verified documents presented as part of DMV transactions. The adoption of back-end AVR technology will yield savings of approximately $9 million dollars in each election cycle, while reducing transaction times at the DMV. The new system also will eliminate millions of paper registration forms that voters typically mail or file in-person.
The Secretary of State may expand the system beyond the DMV to other state agencies that verify U.S. citizenship during agency transactions, like the Department of Health Care Services.
To schedule an interview with Senator Newman, contact Alina Evans at (831) 331-8468