October 11, 2015 / 1:22 AM / 4 years ago

California governor signs automatic voter registration bill

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Saturday signed into law a bill that will automatically enroll citizens in the most populous U.S. state on voter rolls when they obtain or renew driver’s licenses, his office said.

California Governor Edmund "Jerry" Brown (front) speaks during the "Modern Slavery and Climate Change" meeting at the Vatican July 21, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Lorena Gonzalez, a Democratic assemblywoman who authored the legislation, had said it could increase the state’s voter base by millions of people.

The law allows voters to cancel their voter registration at any time, according to Gonzalez’s office.

The California legislation resembles the so-called Motor Voter bill signed into law earlier this year in Oregon, which became the first state in the nation to make voter registration automatic through its Department of Motor Vehicles.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who oversees elections, said earlier this year that the bill would play a positive role in the state by enrolling more voters at a time when turnouts there have been woefully small.

California has 6.6 million citizens who are eligible to vote but not registered, according to statistics from the Secretary of State’s Office.

It ranks 38th in the nation in voter registration rates of eligible citizens, Gonzalez’s office said last month.

Voters in California generally support liberal candidates. More than 43 percent of the state’s voters are registered as Democrats, while 28 percent are listed as Republicans.

The bill will rely on an incoming system called VoteCal to verify a California resident’s legal eligibility to vote.

The system is not expected to be operational until around June, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

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