Voter apathy has been at an all-time high for years. To be frank, nobody feels as if their votes actually matter.
They reduce themselves to one in the millions of votes, so therefore, what would happen if one does not vote?
Nothing, at first, but as more people buy into this philosophy, the farther away the true opinion of the public is skewed.
Two weeks ago, Governor Jerry Brown signed off on a bill called The New Motor Voter Act in hopes of increasing voter turnout.
“State election officials estimate about 6.6 million California citizens are eligible but not registered to vote,” reported KPBS.
The New Motor Voter Act would simplify voter registration by automatically sending a citizen’s data from the DMV when they register or renew their license.
While this process is streamlined and efficient, it is not exactly automatic.
“ [California’s Secretary of State] notes voters retain the right to opt out, cancel or change party affiliation at any time,” Melanie Mason of the LA Times reports. “His office also said an estimated 6.6 million Californians are eligible to vote but are not registered.”
Unlike the automatic voter registration in Oregon—the only other state with this type of policy—Californians simply have to tell the person at the DMV’s desk that they do not want to be registered.
While the ability to exclude voter registration seems like it makes the policy a moot point, it will still increase the number of citizens registered to vote and voter turnout by association.
The main group that would be most affected by this bill are fresh 18 year olds and other college aged citizens.
Personally speaking, registering to vote is not undesirable, but is far from easy. It’s just that filling out a form that at least seems over a foot long and seems longer the closer the pen is to the bottom feels like a daunting waste of time for the right to vote, something most students do not particularly care about.
By automatically registering voters, this barrier of entry is torn down. Although, those who want to vote already vote, there are those who are on the fence and would vote if it were made easier.
New voters at the age of 18 would be more inclined to try voting if the process was simpler. While they do not care too much, those fresh from government class will be more likely to use the voting polls at their schools knowing that all they have to do is walk in.
Furthermore, if these new voters start voting from the beginning, then it may become a habitual ritual that may carry on through the years, thus increasing voter turnout for the future as well.
On the other hand, those against the act fear that voter fraud will occur if the process essentially becomes automatic.
“Most of the Republicans in the California Legislature opposed the measure,” Brakkton Booker of NPR wrote. “And nationally, many conservative groups say these laws make state voter rolls more vulnerable to fraud.”
While this is an issue, it is not an especially worrying one.
“People applying for the special licenses [those designated for illegal residents] will not be asked about their eligibility to vote and will not be asked if they’d like to opt out of registration,” wrote Mason of the LA Times.
The defense against voter fraud is already in place, and would not be compromised as those not eligible to vote are applying for a different license altogether.
The New Motor Voter Act will not double voter turnout. Far from it, it will slightly increase the number of voters as most of those that do want to vote already are.
It simply makes the act of voting more accessible by removing an unnecessary form the size of a parchment.
While it will only slightly increase voter turnout, even if only by a handful, more people will be involved.
Simply put, it doesn’t hurt to have this act. Those that do not want to vote do not have to, but those that are not too sure may be more inclined.