While Republican run states are making it harder to vote through various forms of voter suppression, California took a step in the other direction on Thursday. The California State Senate passed the California New Voter Act on a 24 to 15 vote. The measure automatically registers any California resident who obtains a driver’s license, and who is also legally eligible to vote. The measure would add an individual to the eligible voter rolls, unless the person chooses specifically to opt out of getting registered to vote.
The bill’s original sponsor, 80th District Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzales (D-San Diego), patterned the measure after a similar law that was recently passed in Oregon. Gonzales argued:
The California New Motor Voter Act is a simple, common-sense opportunity to streamline and modernize our voting system to bring millions of eligible voters into the electoral process and rebuild the relationship between the public and their representatives.
Predictably, frightened Republicans balked at the measure, knowing full well that when more people vote, they are less likely to win elections. This is one reason that the GOP is working so hard to erect barriers to voting in any state where they have a governing majority.
In California, however, Democrats control both houses of the legislature and the Governor’s mansion. So instead of passing voter suppression laws, they, along with Oregon, are working to increase voter turnout, rather than attempting to squash it.
Even without the Motor Voter Act in place, the Republican Party is in sorry shape in California. Democrats not only enjoy lopsided majorities in the legislature, but they also hold all eight major state wide offices, leaving the GOP virtually shut out from wielding any political power in Sacramento.
The Motor Voter Act won’t alter the balance of power in California, but it will make it easier for people to get registered to vote so that they can cast their ballots. With the increase in turnout, the Republican drought in California is all but certain to continue. When people turn out to vote, Democrats win, and that is especially true in California, where they already hold a decisive political advantage.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.