California starts online voter registration

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen
September 19, 2012 6:33:39 PM PDT
You now have a new way to register to vote -- you can sign up on the Internet. In Sacramento, the Secretary of State's new online voter registration system was announced.

California joined 11 other states in offering online voter registration. In the past, three states experienced glitches that temporarily crashed their systems, but California's system seems to be working so far.

Filling a paper form is the old-fashioned way of registering to vote. The new way is filing out the voter registration application online and sending it in via computer or smartphone. The California Secretary of State launched a new online voter registration system a month before the deadline to be able to vote in the presidential election this November.

"The main reasons people don't register to vote is simply because they were never asked. Now asking will just take a quick email or text message," said Debra Bowen, D-California Secretary of State.

Online voter registration finally brings California, ground zero for hi-tech, into the 21st Century. For your signature, the state will simply pull up your driver's license record or California ID, already at the DMV.

"This newly built system will allow us to digitally transfer an image of the voter's signature to their voter registration application," said Bowen.

Nearly 24 million Californians are eligible to vote -- more than one-quarter of them, or 6.5 million aren't registered. The new sign-up method is expected to boost the voter rolls among the young who are already used to doing a lot of things online.

"I guess you could register your dog," said Ted Costa from The People's Advocate.

But critics say online registration will boost the possibility of fraud where anyone can register to vote.

"We have such a beautiful system. I don't know why we need to muck it up more than it already is," said Costa.

Bowen insists the same safeguards used for paper applications will be used for the ones submitted online, cross-checked DMV, social security and death records.

"We try to catch dogs who are registering, so the safeguards don't change. This is not automatic registration," said Bowen.

Just in the first 12 hours alone, 3,000 people registered to vote online. The last day to register to vote for the November election is October 22nd.


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