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By Jeremy B. White
03/24/2015 – 4:08 PM
Every eligible Californian would be automatically registered to vote under legislation Secretary of State Alex Padilla is exploring.
“If government knows who’s here, who’s 18, who’s a citizen, why go through hoops?” Padilla said in an interview. “Let’s just register folks automatically.”
The proposal follows Oregon’s new, first-in-the-nation policy sending ballots to every citizen who has made contact with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Padilla was elected to his post last year after a campaign in which he vowed to expand California’s often-miniscule voter participation rates. In addition to the many voters who stay home on Election Day, Padilla’s office estimated that nearly 7 million people eligible to vote have not signed up to do so.
Since federal law already requires Department of Motor Vehicles offices to give customers the option of registering, Padilla said, it would be logical to make the registration automatic. Other state agencies that retain information showing eligibility could potentially perform the same function, he said, and the law would ideally allow people to opt out.
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