Sacramento, CA – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a measure authored by Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) authorizing counties to allow voter registration and voting at satellite locations in the 14 days preceding an election. The bill, Senate Bill (SB) 439, expands existing law that allows counties to set up satellite offices where voters can register to vote, and vote provisionally, on election day only.
“The passage of this legislation represents a major step forward in the effort to increase voter turnout in California. By making it possible for satellite election offices to be open prior to election day, far more voters will be able to take advantage of this convenience,” said Senator Allen, chair of the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. Universal election day voter registration will commence in California in 2017 following the implementation of a new statewide voter database.
Under this new system, county election officials must offer registration and provisional voting to any qualified elector at the county registrar of voter’s office during the two weeks prior to and through election day.
They may also offer this convenience to electors at satellite office locations but can only do so on election day itself. SB 439 would expand the law to allow election officials to offer voter registration and voting at their satellite offices during the two-week period prior to election day as well.
Only 18 percent of eligible Californians cast ballots in the June 2014 primary election – the lowest voter turnout rate in nearly a century. There are many reasons why Californians do not vote, including lack of voter engagement and cynicism. However, according to a March 2015 survey, the top reason registered voters gave for not voting was being too busy or lacking the time to vote. SB 439 will help combat the trend of decreasing voter turnout by providing citizens with more accessible and convenient options for registering to vote and voting.
SB 439 is supported by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the California Association of Clerks and Elections Officials, and Common Cause.