Victory! California joins Oregon in adopting automatic voter registration

Following in Oregon’s footsteps, California Governor Jerry Brown and Golden State lawmakers have taken the concept of “motor voter” to the next level:

In a bid to improve voter turnout in California elections, Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation to automatically register to vote anyone who has a driver’s license or state identification card.

The measure was pushed by Democrats, whose candidates and causes typically benefit from higher turnout elections.

Assembly Bill 1461, by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, will require the state to register adults to vote when they get or renew a driver’s license, unless they opt out. It will make California only the second state, after Oregon, to proactively register people to vote unless they decline.

Brown also signed several other bills to expand voter rights.

This is a hugely positive development for California and for the nation. Automatic voter registration has the potential to eliminate an annoying barrier to voting for millions of people. It makes no sense to require people to opt-in to the rolls in order to vote. If fuller participation in elections is our goal (and it ought to be), then it makes sense to change over to opt-out as our default.