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Same Day Voter Registration In California?

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
State Senator Leland Yee says some people put off registering to vote – or simply forget to update their registration when they move:
“In the busyness of life these days…people tend not to focus on it so much, and we need more people to vote and more people to participate and that’s the lifeblood of our democracy.”
Yee says his bill would help to make that happen. Right now voter registration cuts off two weeks before an election. But under the legislation Californians could show up at their county elections office on Election Day, present the proper ID, then register and vote. Their identity would be confirmed by the state’s new voter database, which is expected to be up and running in 2011. Kathy Feng is with Common Cause, which is sponsoring the bill. She says several other states have similar policies and they work:
“We are seeing in other states, jumps in voter registration by as much as seven percent.”
“That’s exactly the time you want people to register to vote.”
Kim Alexander heads up the non-partisan California Voter Foundation. She says campaigning is at a fever pitch the two weeks leading up to the election and that’s when people pay the most attention:
“If you don’t capture people when the election’s going on, there’s a good chance that another election’s going to come around and they’re still not going to be registered to vote.”
Deborah Seiler is the Registrar of Voters for San Diego County. She has some concerns about Yee’s bill, including possible long wait times at the polls – and the fact that the ID policy at the polls would change:
“It’s a basic tenet of California law that voters do not have to show ID at the polls. If we now have some people coming in showing ID, we’re very concerned about being able to properly train the poll workers that not every voter has to show ID.”
Voters rejected a similar ballot measure back in 2002. Secretary of State Debra Bowen says she supports the idea of Election Day voter registration, but she is not taking a position on this bill. Yee’s bill heads next to another Senate committee
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