On Saturday, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that instantly registers residents to vote when they renew or obtain a new license beginning in 2016. The “New Motor Voter Act” is just one of many steps aimed at addressing California’s low election participation rate–California’s 2014 voter turnout was one of the worst in the nation. California is only the second state in the nation behind Oregon to opt-in on registering voters. NPR reported the following:
California's Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement the law will "make voter registration seamless" and it would amount to "the largest voter registration drive in the nation's history." He added:
"In a free society, the right to vote is fundamental. ... The New Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens. ... "
"Citizens should not be required to opt-in to their fundamental right to vote," Padilla added. "We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech or due process. The right to vote should be no different."
Padilla notes voters retain the right to opt out, cancel or change party affiliation at any time. His office also said there is an estimated 6.6 million Californians eligible to vote, but they are not registered to.