Tuesday, July 3, 2012

County-based online voter registration expected in California by August, 2012

A plan to allow California citizens to register to vote online hit a big bump in the road back in August of 2010, when Secretary of State Debra Bowen cancelled a contract with Catalyst Consulting Group to build the VoteCal database needed to make online registration possible.

A February 17, 2011 article in the San Jose Mercury reported that the “’VoteCal’ statewide online database system [is] now delayed at least until 2015.”

Shannan Velayas, spokesperson for the California Secretary of State’s Office, wrote in an July 2, 2012, e-mail to Etopia News that:

 “VoteCal is currently in the procurement stage of the process.  Of course, the project is following the standard state process and there will be more information to provide once a contract is awarded.”
Nevertheless, Californians ought to be able to register to vote online on a county-by-county basis by August, 2012, thanks to legislation introduced by California State Senator Leland Yee (SB 397) and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 7, 2011.

This legislation was strongly supported by California Common Cause, and is expected by them to encourage the political participation of Internet-savvy and younger citizens.

Adam Keigwin, Senator Yee’s chief of staff, says he expects the system to be available in “late August.”

Cecilia Gomez Reyes, spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, also said that the program allowing online voter registration should be operating in that jurisdiction by August, 2012.

Being able to register new voters online, or to persuade already-registered voters to change their party affiliation online, ought to provide a boost to the state’s nascent California Pirate Party, which has initiated a campaign to register 104,000 voters as members of that group in order to qualify as an officially-registered political party under California law.

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