On Saturday, October 10th, 2015, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1461, the New Motor Voter Act, which was filed with the Secretary of State that same day. According to the text of the bill,
“This bill would require the Secretary of State and the Department of Motor Vehicles to establish the California New Motor Voter Program for the purpose of increasing opportunities for voter registration by any person who is qualified to be a voter.”
In short, the New Motor Voter Act automatically registers any individual who secures or renews a driver’s license through the Department of Motor Vehicles to vote. Individuals who do not wish to register to vote may opt out of doing so. Secretary of State Alex Padilla argues that the new bill will make it much easier for citizens to vote because it minimizes extra trips and superfluous red tape in the registration process. Padilla said in a statement:
“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. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”
Right on Alex Padilla! That’s the American spirit. Currently, only around 63 percent of Latinos in California are registered to vote. Cristobal Alex chairs the Latino Victory Project, whose mission is to ensure that “faces and voices of Latinos are reflected at every level of government.” Alex made the following statement regarding the law:
“As we’ve seen, our country is at a crossroads, and the next election will present us with a choice between old-fashioned anti-immigrant bigotry and an opportunity to make this country more inclusive. Imagine what would happen if we passed this law, registering 4 million California Latinos to vote in one fell swoop. That’s enough to dramatically change the landscape of the next election, forcing candidates to focus on issues that affect the Latino community.”
Many worry, however, that this bill will allow illegal immigrants to vote because those immigrants are now able to obtain driver’s licenses. Republicans are particularly opposed to this bill, for fear that it will result in more votes for Democrats (candidates who are thought to be more popular among immigrants). California is typically a blue state anyway, but this law ensures that their electoral votes will be tallied on the Democrat’s side for the foreseeable future. The California New Motor Voter Act follows a similar such bill signed into law in Oregon last March by Democratic Governor Kate Brown.