By Steve Scauzillo, SGVN
Posted: 09/25/2012 08:20:44 PM PDT
Updated: 09/25/2012 09:31:27 PM PDT

While other states are imposing stricter rules on voting, new laws in California have made registering to vote here easier, leaders from state government and the entertainment industry boasted on Tuesday.

Their message was part of National Voter Registration Day, which featured included dozens of local get out the vote events from Los Angeles to San Bernardino.

Among the most significant changes: voters can now register to vote online, thanks to legislation approved in 2011.

The law – which went into effect last week – is the biggest change to impact voter registration in the state since the advent of multilingual application forms, said Hal Dash, chairman of Cerrell Associates, a political consulting firm in Los Angeles.

Since Sept. 19, about 25,000 people have registered to vote online through the state website, according to state officials. Of those, about 61 percent are under 35 years of age, said Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

“On the first day it was available, 10,000 people registered to vote,” Bowen said Tuesday at a Rock the Vote! event at Cal State Los Angeles.

So far, younger people have dominated the use of new online registration tools, she said. And the tools are needed – the
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largest group of unregistered voters in the state are 30 and under, she said.

“You can throw away your paper forms, get out your iPads and your Blackberries and register to vote,” she urged those gathered at the CSULA Student Union plaza.

Another law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Monday, allows voters to register on election day. But that doesn’t go into effect until 2014. For now, the last day to register to vote before the Nov. 6 presidential election is midnight, Oct. 22.

The county will continue to see more registered voters as a result of these new laws, Dash said.

“Anything that will help people to vote, and help them register to vote … is better for democracy,” Dash said.

In California, about 17.5 million people are registered to vote. About 6.5 million people who are eligible are not registered, Bowen said. Half of those eligible, unregistered voters are in Los Angeles County, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder County Clerk Dean Logan said.

“Here in L.A. County, no one will get in the way of having your voice heard and your vote counted,” Logan said.

Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, urging the crowd at CSULA to register to vote, said California is encouraging people to exercise this fundamental democratic right, unlike other states that are restricting it.

Courts are reviewing photo ID voting laws in Pennsylvania, Florida and Colorado. Supporters say these laws are aimed at rooting out voter fraud. But critics charge they are attempting to curtail Hispanics from voting. Hispanics generally vote Democratic and voted for President Obama in 2008 in large numbers.

“People around the country are trying to pass laws to make it impossible for you to vote. We are not like that,” Becerra said.

Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Politics at Cal State L.A., said after 2010, when Republicans gained majorities in certain statehouses, voting laws in those states became more restrictive.

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