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A new database will allow California voters to check if they are registered at their current address, their party affiliation and whether a ballot sent by mail was actually counted.

John Myers
February 29, 2016

A single, instantly updated list of registered voters in California became reality on Monday, as two final counties plugged in to an electronic database mandated by a federal law enacted in the wake of the contentious 2000 presidential campaign.

In other words, a database that was long overdue.

“It’s been more than a decade in coming,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said.

The $98-million project allows elections officials in each of California’s 58 counties to easily track voters who move from one place to another and to quickly update their records in the event of a death or a voter deemed ineligible after conviction of a felony.

The database will allow voters to check if they are registered at their current address, their party affiliation and whether a ballot sent by mail was actually counted.

“Usually, it is the poorer or more rural counties that lack these tools,” said Kim Alexander, president of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “That creates an uneven playing field for California voters and undermines voters’ constitutional right to equal protection.”

In an interview Monday, Padilla said a public awareness campaign will be needed to ensure Californians know there soon will be a new tool at their disposal.

“What it means for the voters is most important,” he said.

The VoteCal database will undergo a battery of operational testing to sort out any remaining problems before being officially certified in June. But the final hookup to Stanislaus and Monterey counties Monday marked an important milestone.

Since 2003, the project has been waylaid by a scandal that led to the resignation of a former secretary of state, a threatened federal lawsuit, a private company that walked away from the technology project and the cumbersome process of re-awarding the government contract.

“All that is thankfully behind us,” Padilla said.

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