Voting Rights Group Calls On Secretary Bowen To Be A Leader


Media Contact:

April 29, 2011

Katie Fleming (916) 443-1792

Voting Rights Group Calls on Secretary Bowen to be a Leader

Online Voter Registration SB 397

Sacramento, CA – California’s Online Voter registration law will not be implemented until 2015 and one voting rights group, California Common Cause, is asking Secretary of State Debra Bowen, to work harder to save government money and increase voter turnout rates. They are asking her to support an Online Voter Registration bill (SB 397) that could have Californians registering online for the 2012 election. SB 397 was introduced by Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) in response to increasing pressure from voting rights groups and youth organizations. The bill will be heard in committee May 3rd.

“I can renew my driver’s license online and pay my taxes online. Why can’t I register to vote online?” Kathay Feng, Executive Director of California Common Cause, says we cannot afford to keep people out of the voting process. “Washington State estimated it saved $176,000 in its first year with this reform. Why not California?”

Up until now, the holdup comes from significant delays in the implementation of a federally mandated statewide voter registration database. The database project, VoteCal, is the foundation for reforms like Online Voter Registration and Election Day Registration. Our state’s top election official, Secretary of State Debra Bowen, has indicated that we are not likely to see VoteCal until 2015. SB 397 creates a local solution for Online Voter registration to be implemented without waiting for VoteCal.

Katie Fleming, Policy Advocate for California Common Cause: “We have a solution to save the state money, while increasing voter access now. VoteCal has run into road-block after obstacle after challenge. Clearly the project is a big one and California’s contracting process is complicated. In the meantime, we would like the see Secretary Bowen work to save California money by making online voter registration an immediate priority.”

“Online voter registration is critical to increasing the ability for young people to participate in the democratic process and make their voices heard,” said Claudia Magana, President of the University of California Student Association, the statewide student government of the UC system. “UCSA leads statewide non-partisan voter registration efforts and registered over 25,000 students in the most recent general election. But our electoral work and that of many community-based organizations could be even more successful with online voter registration.”

California Common Cause is a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1970 as a vehicle for citizens to make their voices heard in the political process and to hold their elected leaders accountable to the public interest.