Hoping to increase the state’s dismal voter turnout, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law earlier this week that will automatically register people to vote when they receive a driver’s license.
According to the Los Angeles Times, approximately 6.6 million eligible California voters are not registered, and last November, only 42 percent of the population showed up to the polls on election day. More so, only 52 percent of California adults between the ages of 18 and 24 are registered. With the new law, government officials hope that it will help adults overcome the obstacles involved with registering to vote.
“The New Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said at a press conference. “Citizens should not be required to opt in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”
Once the law takes effect on Jan. 1, Department of Motor Vehicle employees will be able to register anyone who comes to obtain or renew their drivers license, though residents will have the option to opt out.
“It’s removing the first barrier to voting, which is registration,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D) said to the Times. “It’s going to lead to millions more Californians being registered to vote, which means more people we can talk to.”