White Paper

Automatic Voter Registration

Using Drivers License and Tax Databases
November 10, 2006 |

The Problem. Recent elections underscore the importance of improving the way we register citizens to vote. Our voter rolls are not complete enough, with nearly a third of eligible Californians -- about 6.7 million people -- not registered, a lower percentage than in 2001.This lack of civic participation is a threat to good governance and a healthy democracy. Current state law limits valuable opportunities for engaging more Californians in the electoral process.

California, like the rest of the United States, is one of the few democracies where the government does not take responsibility for registering its voters. The international norm is an orderly process of government-mandated automatic voter registration of every citizen who reaches voting age. Ironically, Iraq has a higher share of its adult citizens registered to vote than the United States because the Iraqi government and the American authorities sponsored automatic voter registration of Iraqi citizens. It's time to establish automatic, universal voter registration that ensures every Californian’s ability to vote.

Automatic Voter Registration. The way forward is to establish universal voter registration as a mutual responsibility of citizens and their government that is conducted through an automatic registration process. Registration would occur on a steady rolling basis instead of in spurts tied to any specific election. Each voter receives a unique identifier that ensures she or he does not vote more than once. Not only does such an orderly process provide nearly 100 percent voter registration, but it leads to much cleaner voter rolls and less voter fraud.

For the complete paper, please see the attached PDF version below.

Over time, as more new drivers and tax filers are added automatically to the rolls, California would approach universal voter registration.