Home>Articles>Bill That Would Make Voter Registration at DMV Centers an Opt-In Process to be Reintroduced in January
Senator Patricia Bates authored SB 57. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)
Senator Patricia Bates. (Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

Bill That Would Make Voter Registration at DMV Centers an Opt-In Process to be Reintroduced in January

SB 57 will be heard in the Senate once again after a nine month hiatus

By Evan Symon, December 18, 2019 8:13 pm

Senate Bill 57, which would stop automatically registering all eligible voters to vote when they get a driver’s license at the DMV and revert it back to an opt-in system, will be back in front of the California legislature next month.

Earlier this year the bill was introduced and had been in committees but was subsequently delayed after problems with the bill in April. But SB 57, written by Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel), has been thrust back into the spotlight after over 600 reports of registered Republicans and Democrats had their voter registration changed after visiting the DMV.

“Today’s news offers additional information as to why the DMV should not be involved in voter registration,” said Senator Bates about the DMV issues. ” The DMV is already dealing with many other problems and having people question the integrity of our election system should not be one of them. It’s time for the Legislature to make voter registration at the DMV an opt-in process to safeguard against errors and fraud.”

The opt-out process at the DMV began in 2015 following former Governor Jerry Brown signing AB 1461 into law. The automatic registration has had more and more detractors over the years, especially after many voters have had their voter registrations changed. SB 57 was made in response to the outcry against involuntary changes.

“The bottom line is that if you want to change your party preference, update your address, or if you do not want to register to vote, that should be your choice — not something forced upon you by the DMV or some bureaucrat in Sacramento,” said Senator Bates in a March San Diego Union-Tribune Op-Ed. “Automatic voter registration has led to many troubling concerns that simply cannot be brushed aside.”

Senator Bates has also been clear that SB 57 will not alter any other laws, nor will it end voluntary voter registration at the DMV.

“SB 57 doesn’t ‘scrap’ California’s ‘motor voter’ law,” said Senator Bates earlier this year. “The 1993 federal motor voter law requires states to offer voter registration opportunities at DMV offices, but it doesn’t mandate automatic voter registration. SB 57 doesn’t prohibit the DMV from offering registration opportunities.”

SB 57 will be one of the first bills to be heard in the new year, with the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee expected to hear the bill on January 7th.

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