Drive a Car – Register to Vote (One Stop)

Overview: California is always on the cutting edge, or edge of jumping off a cliff, depending on your point of view. This time California has passed a voter registration law that automatically registers adults to vote when an application is made to get or renew a driver’s license or obtain a state identification card.  The law will become effective when the state implements its long-awaited voter database: VoteCal.  Read all about it in this Law Review.


Last year Governor Jerry signed a new law into effect designed to dramatically increase the number of Californians registered to vote.

In the face of other states passing measures (some recently ruled unconstitutional) to make it more difficult for citizens to vote, California is going the other way – making it easier.

The federal Motor Voter Law requires voter registration forms to be available at motor vehicle agencies, but that ain’t nothing compared to California’s new law.

Assembly Bill 1461 will require California to register adults to vote when they get or renew a driver’s license, unless they opt out.  Only Oregon has a similar law.

Democrats, including Secretary of State Alex Padilla, support the bill which will likely bring more young and poor residents to the voting polls, while Republicans mostly oppose the measure arguing that noncitizens and those ineligible to vote may be able to register and vote.

In the last general election, just 31% of the state population that was eligible to vote, voted; the lowest since World War II.  That illustrates how citizens feel disenfranchised.

Language in the bill requires the Secretary of State to establish procedures to safeguard the confidentiality of information acquired from DMV.  The Secretary of State’s office is to adopt regulations to implement the new law.

The law requires DMV to electronically provide the Secretary of State with the records of each person who is issued an original or renewal of a driver’s license or state identification card.  The person’s motor vehicle records will then constitute a completed affidavit of registration and the person will be registered to vote — unless the person affirmatively declines to be registered to vote when asking for a driver’s license.

You are automatically registered unless you opt out.

On one side, it appears like a legitimate attempt to involve more people in the election process, looking the other way, it has the appearance of Democrats rounding up more voters.

The new system will not be in place this November, it will first require implementation of California’s long-awaited voter database, VoteCal.


Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, California, and Reno, Nevada.  Jim’s practice areas include:  real estate, development, construction, business, HOA’s, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters.  He may be reached at or  

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The content contained and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author. This blog contains content and opinions concerning the law generally, and is not intended to constitute legal advice or to create any attorney‑client relationship with the reader. The reader should consult with an attorney about any specific legal issues prior to embarking on any course of action or inaction involving legal matters.