California Assembly Approves New ‘Motor Voter’ Bills

Voter Registration (Justin Sullivan / Getty)
Justin Sullivan / Getty

On Tuesday, California’s Democrat-majority Assembly approved two major pieces of legislation, together known as “motor voter” bills, that could automatically turn prospective drivers into voters by registering visitors to the Department of Motor Vehicles who are either obtaining or renewing their drivers’ licenses.

According to the Associated Press, AB 1461, penned by Assemblywoman Loretta Gonzalez (D-San Diego), and  AB786, by Marc Levine (D- San Rafael), are on their way to California’s state Senate.

AB 1461, which has the backing of newly-minted Secretary of State Alex Padilla, passed with a 53-11 vote. And AB 786, which is an attempt to bring the 20-year-old federal “motor voter” law (the National Voter Registration Act of 1993) to the state level, passed 45-25, according to the AP.

Gonzalez’s bill follows Oregon’s lead. This past February, Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown signed a law requiring every person with a driver’s license in her state to be registered to vote automatically; the only way to avoid automatic voter enrollment is to opt out of it affirmatively.

During last November’s primary elections, California saw the lowest voter turnout in the state’s history since 1946. Padilla’s hope is that by upping the number of registered voters that it will translate into more people actually turning up to vote. However, there is no empirical data to support such claims.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz


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