Friday, April 15, 2016

California DMV can’t comment on feasibility of expanding its support to online signature gathering

It was once thought outrageous and impossible to allow citizens to register to vote online.  In 1996, this reform was proposed as part of a system of direct digital democracy that included online voter registration; “Smart Initiatives,” or online signature gathering; and outright online voting.  You can read more about these efforts here.

It’s now possible to register to vote online in California.  The system, operated by the Secretary of State and available here relies upon data and a digital copy of your signature on file with the California DMV to validate your initial voter registration or any modifications you might make to it.  Read more about how this works here.

Voters Organized to Engage! is currently circulating, via volunteers wielding pen and paper, a petition to legalize digital signatures on official petitions, thereby enabling online signature gathering as an alternative to the high-priced paid petition signature gathering system. 

Their proposal is called the “California Initiative, Referendum and Recall Reform Act of 2016” (CIRRRA) and you can read it here.  You can read its official Title and Summary here.  You can read its Fiscal Impact Estimate Report here.

Since the current, very successful online voter registration system employed by the Secretary of State’s Office relies on retrieving digital signatures of voters from the massive DMV database, Etopia News took the logical step of asking the DMV how feasible it would be to expand that operation to allow voters to sign official petitions online on the Secretary of State’s website, just as they can now digitally sign their voter registration affidavits this way there.   Here’s what DMV, via its Office of Public Affairs/Media Relations, had to say today in reply:

“At this time, this is not an issue that DMV is exploring so we don’t have any true data to provide that would dictate the possibility of such a process. “

The Secretary of State’s Office continues to decline any comment about its own views on this proposed electoral reform.

Only one California elected politician, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, has been willing to comment on whether he supports CIRRRA, and he only said, through his Chief of Staff Rhys Williams, that he had taken no position on this issue.

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