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Gov. Brown Signs Bill to Revolutionize Voting in California

SACRAMENTO, September 29, 2016—Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation authorizing counties to adopt a voter-centered approach to elections. Senate Bill 450, authored by Sen. Ben Allen and sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, provides voters with many more options for how they can vote, recognizing the changing needs of voters today. Common Cause supported the bill.

For counties that opt-in, voters would have the option of voting by mail, dropping off their ballot at secure drop boxes located around the county, or casting a ballot in-person at a Vote Center. Vote Centers are open 10 days up to and on Election Day, including weekends. A voter could cast their ballot, register to vote, or update their registration at any Vote Center in their county.
“The Vote Center model is the future of voting in California,” said Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause. “Senate Bill 450 will encourage more people to vote by expanding the options Californians have for when, where, and how to cast a ballot.”

Turnout in California has been on the decline for decades and reached a crisis point in 2014, when only 18 percent of eligible Californians cast ballots in the June primary election and 31 percent in the November general election. According to a March 2015 Public Policy Institute of California poll, the top reason (29%) registered voters gave for not voting was being too busy or not having the time to vote.

“Voting is a fundamental constitutional right,” said Nicolas Heidorn, Legislation and Policy Counsel for California Common Cause. “We need to eliminate unnecessary barriers and inconveniences to voting. Senate Bill 450 modernizes California’s voting system to be more responsive to current voting trends and an increasingly mobile society.”