Submitted to the WPR
With the latest data showing that more than six million of 23.6 million eligible Californians are not registered to vote, Secretary of State Debra Bowen is promoting her online tools for voter registration.
“With the voter registration deadline fast approaching for the June primary, now is a perfect time to register to vote with my online fillable form,” said Secretary Bowen, the state’s chief elections officer. “If you aren’t sure if you are registered, you can also go through my website to find out.”
Californians can fill out the Secretary of State’s online voter registration form at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote then just print, sign and mail it. (The form is even pre-addressed to the registrant’s county elections office.) Californians can also pick up a voter registration form at any U.S. post office, public library or county elections office.
The last day to register to vote in the June 5 primary election is May 21. A person must re-register to vote after moving, changing names or changing political party preference. Voters can check if they are already registered to vote through a Secretary of State portal at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status.
The Secretary of State’s most recent report of California voter registration data for a variety of political subdivisions is at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ror/ror-pages/154day-presprim-12.
Especially during election season, many people are registered to vote through groups conducting voter registration drives. These groups are expected to follow the many laws that protect against election fraud and intimidation. For example, a person cannot be denied a voter registration form, and circulators who collect voter registration forms must promptly deliver them to county elections offices. Secretary Bowen’s list of key voter registration drive tips is attached.
“As May 21 nears, you’ll see more people popping up at shopping malls and other high-traffic public places, eager to register voters,” said Bowen. “Groups conducting voter registration drives play an important role in our democracy and they have a responsibility to know the law.”
Keep up with the latest California election news, trivia and tips by following @CASOSvote on Twitter. To sign up for ballot measure updates via email, RSS feed or Twitter, go to www.sos.ca.gov/multimedia.
California Secretary of State Voter Registration Drive Do and Don’t List
DO: Know the laws. As a registration drive participant, you have responsibilities and liabilities under the law. Failure to comply with certain requirements is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to one year in jail. Check out the Secretary of State’s Guide to Voter Registration Drives at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/guides/guide-to-vr-drives.pdf for laws and guidelines. Secretary Bowen also offers a toll-free Voter Hotline at (800) 345-VOTE (8683) that anyone can call to ask election-related questions or to confidentially report potential election fraud or voter intimidation.
DON’T: Deny anyone their right. Even if you are conducting a partisan voter registration drive, California law requires you to give a blank voter registration form to anyone who asks for one and to promptly turn in any completed voter registration form, regardless of the person’s party preference.
DO: Know who is eligible. People may register to vote in California if they are residents of California; United States citizens; at least 18 years old by Election Day; are not in prison or county jail (serving a state prison sentence or a term of more than one year in jail for a defined “low-level” felony) or on parole, post-release community supervision or post-sentencing probation for a felony conviction; and have not been judged by a court to be mentally incompetent.
DON’T: Charge money or give gifts for voter registrations. The 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and California Elections Code section 2121 prohibit charging any fee as a way to deny people the right to vote. Likewise, don’t offer incentives for agreeing to register to vote. This is also illegal under state and federal law.
DO: Return voter registration forms within three days. Every completed registration form collected by a circulator must be returned in person to the county elections office or deposited in the mail within three days of receiving it or before the close of registration, whichever is earlier.
DON’T: Fill in the blanks. While you should encourage the person to write legibly and fill out all required portions of the voter registration form, you may not fill in the blanks unless the person registering to vote asks you for assistance.
DO: Remind voters to sign their full names. Elections officials compare the signature from a voter registration form to the voter’s signature on the vote-by-mail ballot or the roster at the polling place. To ensure signatures match up, it is important that a voter always signs the same way.
DON’T: Forget the receipt. Each registration form is assigned a unique affidavit number. When you collect someone’s registration form, you must fill out the form’s receipt and provide it to the voter. (If a person registers using the Secretary of State’s online form at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/register-to-vote an affidavit number will be generated.) In the event of a problem with the registration, the person can use the number for tracking purposes.