California’s Governor Brown over the weekend signed into law new steps to automatically register eligible voters when they get their driver’s license in the state. Here’s a link to a NY Times story on the legislation.
The new automatic registration process won’t take effect until sometime next year, after California’s new voter registration system is fully functional. However, once the automatic registration procedures are enacted, though, this will mean that many eligible voters will be added to the state’s voter registration database and thus they won’t have to take any extra steps in order to register to vote. By being in the voter registration system, these new voters will start to get information from state and local election officials about upcoming elections, and no doubt they will also start to get communications from campaigns urging them to vote.
The longer-term effects of this new automatic voter registration procedure will no doubt be the subject of lots of research in the future. We’ll of course want to study changes in voter registration and turnout in the state, but also it will be important to determine what this new automatic registration system might imply for the workflow for local election administrators in California.