Monday, October 10, 2011

Gov. Jerry Brown OKs Online Voter Registration in California

Californians will be able to register to vote online for 2012 elections under legislation signed into law today by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Senate Bill 397, by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, allows to state to begin registering voters online ahead of the completion of a new statewide voter registration database.

In the meantime, election officials and the Department of Motor Vehicles will work together to match registration information submitted online with DMV records containing an electronic copy of a voter's signature.

Supporters had argued that the bill would make it easier for Californians to register to vote, increasing voter participation.

"In the 21st century, especially here in California, it is long overdue to have online voter registration," Yee said in a statement. "SB 397 will not only help protect the integrity of the vote, but will allow many more individuals the opportunity to register and participate in our democracy."

The Democratic governor also vetoed several measures affecting elections and the initiative process, including:

• Senate Bill 205, a bill by Democratic Sen. Lou Correa, to prohibit paying canvassers to register voters on a per-registration basis. "Efforts to register voters should be encouraged, not criminalized," Brown wrote in a veto message.

• Senate Bill 199, also by Correa, which would have allowed voters to submit their vote-by-mail ballots at any polling location in the state, instead of one within their county. Brown cited concerns that the change would "add complexity to the voting and election process without commensurate benefit."

• Senate Bill 334, which would have required the top five contributors for and against an initiative to be printed in the statewide voter pamphlet. He rejected because it would only include contributions received at the time the guide is set for publication. "I am concerned that this outdated information could mislead voters about the true supporters and opponents of a ballot measure," Brown wrote in his veto of Democratic Sen. Mark DeSaulnier's measure.

• Assembly Bill 65, by Democratic Assemblyman Mike Gatto, which would have mandated disclaimers in the ballot pamphlet about restrictions on the use of any revenues generated by an initiative. "I am sympathetic to the author's concerns that voters should understand more clearly the consequences of initiatives that dedicate revenue to a specific purpose," he wrote. "But the disclaimer mandated by this bill won't provide voters greater clarity."

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