Friday, June 12, 2015

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla seeks to increase voter participation with reform plans

Disturbed by low and declining voter participation rates in California, Alex Padilla, the state’s Secretary of State and thus its chief election officer, has launched a campaign to make voting easier and more convenient, in hopes that California can reproduce the higher voting rates in Colorado, which recently instituted reforms similar to those being proposed for California by the Secretary of State.

Padilla is pursuing this goal by means of SB 450, a bill he is sponsoring in the California legislature.  This bill is authored by Ben Allen from Santa Monica (co-authored by California State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg), and includes provisions replacing traditional polling places with “vote centers” throughout each county, where voters could go to cast their ballots.  It would expand early voting to the ten days prior to the election. 

The Secretary of State is also a sponsor of AB 1461, a bill from Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez that would replace the current “opt-in” voting system with an “opt-out” one that would involve the transmission of driver license information from the Department of Motor Vehicles to the Office of the Secretary of State, which would mail postcards to unregistered voters, giving them the chance to opt-out of automatically being registered to vote.  If they don’t reply to this notice within 21 days, they will be automatically registered, as the default result.

Padilla is not a sponsor of a separate-but-related bill, SB 163, authored by California State Senator Robert M. Hertzberg, which recently was passed by the California State Senate and would require providing all registered California voters in Los Angeles County with mail-in/absentee ballots.

Sam Mahood, press spokesperson for Secretary of State Padilla, told Etopia News that there shouldn’t be any problems caused by the intersection of SB 163 and SB 450, since by the time they would go into effect election officials will be able to prevent double voting by people by mail and also in-person because the long-awaited VoteCal real-time voter registration and voting system will make that impossible.

Asked if things had gotten so desperate in terms of trying to find ways to increase voter turnout that there had been discussion of allowing remote Internet voting in California, Mr. Mahood replied tersely, "not in this office."

1 comment:

Hanna Dettman said...

well said.

hope it goes through!