Hot from the resounding success of the online voter registration system his legislation enabled, a Bay Area lawmaker now wants to expand that system’s reach.
State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, today introduced a bill that would put a link to the online registration system run by the Secretary of State on every state government website.
“The use of online voter registration was overwhelming, but we need to continue to find new ways to get as many citizens as possible involved in our democracy,” Yee said in a news release. “When Californians access their state government via the internet, we should encourage them to vote and have their voice heard at the ballot box.”
“There are more than 5 ½ million eligible Californians who are not registered to vote. Senate Bill 44 will help us reach these individuals and significantly increase the voter rolls.”
The new system, which went live in September, let nearly 800,000 Californians register online to vote in November’s election, helping to boost the state’s registered voters to a record 18.25 million and – some believe – contributing to Democrats’ success in reaching legislative supermajorities.
Yee cited early numbers showing that those who registered to vote using the new online system were significantly more likely to cast a ballot in the November election.
According to Political Data Inc. (PDI), turnout was 84.7 percent in Sacramento County from those who registered online – 10 percentage points higher than the county average. In Orange County, those who registered online turned out at 82 percent versus the county average of 72 percent. Fresno County saw an even larger uptick in turnout among those who registered online: 78.2 percent, versus the county average of only 63.8 percent. Figures for other counties are still being collected.
“Not only were we able to increase turnout among those who registered online, but we significantly increased participation among young people and first time voters,” said Yee.
UPDATE @ 4:19 P.M. THURSDAY: A quick clarification and amplification – these comparisons in Sacramento, Orange and Fresno counties are between those who registered online between Sept. 19 (when the new system went live) and Oct. 22 and all other voters in those counties regardless of when they registered. The turnout rates are much closer if you compare those who registered online during those few final weeks and those who registered on paper during the same time period. Also, it’s worth noting that while Yee sponsored the legislation authorizing the new system, it was Secretary of State Debra Bowen who secured federal funding and built a successful system in only about nine months, a very short time by state IT project standards.
Posted on Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Under: California State Senate, Debra Bowen, Leland Yee, Secretary of State, voter registration | 2 Comments »
California Secretary of State Debra Bowen this week honored a pair of Santa Clara County polling-place volunteers who have been serving their community for decades.
Rita Chavez Medina and Helen Garza have staffed the polls during elections in the last 60 and 52 years respectively, Bowen said.
“Election after election, Rita and Helen have been an indispensable part of Santa Clara County elections, and I can’t thank them enough for their dedication,” she said in a news release. “Veteran poll workers can’t do it alone, so I hope more voters and high school students in Santa Clara County join Helen and Rita at the polls on Election Day!”
Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Barry Garner said he and his staff are honored to have the two women serve so long. “Their contribution to the election process, in Santa Clara County, is invaluable. They are not doing this for the money, they are doing it for the love of their county, state, and country.”
Bowen noted each statewide election requires a one-day army of 100,000 poll workers in nearly 22,000 polling places across the state. Poll workers help to secure ballots, educate voters about their rights, ensure accessibility for voters with disabilities, and more. A poll worker is paid an average of $100 for the day’s work, though rates vary among counties.
If you’re interested in serving as a poll worker, contact your county elections office or find more information on Bowen’s website. To serve as a poll worker, you must be a registered voter or a high-school student in good standing who is a United States citizen, at least 16 years old, and has a minimum 2.5 grade-point average.
Posted on Friday, October 5th, 2012
Under: Debra Bowen, Elections, Secretary of State | 9 Comments »
A Pew Center Center on the States’ study on election web sites found California’s in need of improvement.
Click here to read the full study, called “Being Online Is Not Enough.”
The Golden State scored below average and while researchers found some good stuff, the state is shy on key look-up tools offered elsewhere. Here’s a summary of they had to say about www.sos.ca.gov/elections and www.voterguide.sos.ca.gov:
California provides rich and detailed voting information for users, but offers none of the five recommended lookup tools, reducing its overall score. Improved navigation and content organization can help voters find needed information.
The California Secretary of State’s office operates the sites evaluated. The tools include voter registration status, polling place, ballot information, and absentee and provisional ballot status.
The California Voter Foundation, Center for Governmental Studies and the Nielsen Norman Group participated in the project.
While many other states have made great progress in recent years utilizing the Internet as an effective and efficient tool to help voters engage in elections, California is lagging behind,” wrote California Voter Foundation director Kim Alexander. “At CVF, we are working with a number of individuals and organizations to promote a statewide voter registration status lookup tool and hope that someday soon California voters will have as good, if not better access to modern election tools as voters in other states.”
UPDATE: Secretary of State spokeswoman Nicole Winger offered this information in response to the Pew Center on the State’s study:
Since you wrote about today’s Pew announcement and report, I thought you’d be interested in these links to California items the Pew Center missed.
Pew: “Provide instructions for people with disabilities on how to use special voting machines” http://www.sos.ca.gov/voting-systems/oversight/county-vsys/ca-map-counties3.htm
Pew: “Provide state residency requirements for registering to vote” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm
Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… polling place location” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_ppl.htm
Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… status of absentee ballots” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/
Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… status of provisional ballots” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-status/
(See also: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_provisional.htm )
Pew: “Offer lookup tools that allow voters to view… their registration status” http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status/
“The California Secretary of State’s office has come a long way in improving its website with very limited resources in recent years, but we will certainly continue to build more features and make them easier for people to find,” Winger said.
Posted on Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Under: Secretary of State | No Comments »
New York Giants head football coach Tom Coughlin is endorsing GOP Secretary of State candidate and former NFL player Damon Dunn.
The announcement comes on the heels of news that football icon Ronnie Lott has also thrown his name behind Dunn’s candidacy.
“Damon was a joy to coach — always had a great attitude, an abundance of enthusiasm, and incredible energy for everything,” Coughlin said in an email. “He is very smart and was always like a sponge in terms of learning. Damon was very involved with community service –- constantly volunteering and never had to be pushed –- he had a true sense of wanting to give back and once he started something, he always finished the task.”
No offense to Coughlin. I’m sure he is fine fellow. I confess, I am not a football fan. I had to Google his name, where I found glowing reviews about his character and leadership.
But do California voters care which candidate a New York football coach has endorsed? After all, Dunn had a brief and undistinguished NFL career.
Dunn says Caughlin’s support, along with that of Lott’s and others, is an indication of his leadership skills.
“These men and women are leading in the real world, not influenced by quid pro quo, and see leadership qualities in me,” Dunn wrote. “The gridlock in Sacramento will not be mitigated by public policy wonks or some new innovative idea. It will be mitigated by applying leadership. We need strong leaders in Sacramento in every elected position.”
Dunn is running against Democratic incumbent Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
Posted on Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Secretary of State | 7 Comments »