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Hillary praises California’s new voter-reg law

Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton praised California’s new voter-registration law Saturday, and is coming to the Golden State next week to rally the Asian-American vote.

New laws effective Jan. 1 in California and Oregon mean residents will be automatically registered to vote when they get a driver’s license, unless they opt out; California’s system won’t take effect until the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Secretary of State’s office work out technical issues. Clinton, who has called for universal, automatic voter registration across the nation, thinks it’s a nifty idea.

Hillary 12-29-2015 in NH (Getty Images)“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, and America is stronger when more of us vote. That’s why I and many others have been alarmed to see several states make it harder — not easier — for people to vote,” she said in a news release. “That’s wrong, and goes against everything our country stands for. California and Oregon have the right idea. I hope more states follow their lead. And I hope more Americans step up to defend this right for themselves and each other.”

Clinton’s campaign also announced she’ll be in San Gabriel this Thursday, Jan. 7 with Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park – chairwoman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus – to launch Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Hillary.

Joined by dozens of AAPI elected officials and community leaders from across the nation, “Clinton will discuss what’s at stake in this election for the AAPI community, and how she’ll fight for them as president,” her campaign said.

Asian-Americans have emerged as a major, Democrat-leaning voting bloc in battleground swing states such as Nevada, Virginia and Florida.

Clinton also has several fundraisers scheduled for her California visit. She’ll attend a $2,700-a-head luncheon with Chu on Thursday in the San Gabriel Valley, and then a “family celebration” reception Thursday afternoon at Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles, hosted by television and movie producer Lisa Henson and artist and animator David Pressler; tickets range from $500 to $2,700. On Friday, she’s scheduled to attend a $2,700-per-person “Conversation with Hillary” event in San Francisco hosted by Diana Nelson, chairwoman of the Carlson global hospitality and travel company, and then a $2,700-per-person evening reception in Palo Alto hosted by venture capitalist Greg Sands and his wife, Sarah.

Clinton leads Bernie Sanders, the independent U.S. Senator from Vermont and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, by about 23 percentage points, according to the latest average of recent national polls compiled by Real Clear Politics. She leads Sanders by about 13 points in Iowa, but Sanders leads by about 4 points in New Hampshire.

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Padilla chalks up win on eve of East Bay visit

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla arrives in the East Bay on Wednesday with a legislative win under his belt.

Alex PadillaThe Assembly on Tuesday approved a bill that Padilla sponsored, AB 1461, to modernize California’s motor-voter registration system so that every eligible citizen who goes to a Department of Motor Vehicles office to get or renew a driver’s license or state ID will be registered – potentially adding millions to the rolls. Voters would retain their right to opt out or cancel their voter registration at any time, and the bill would protect those covered by existing confidentiality policies such as victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

The bill, jointly authored by Assembly members Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego; Luis Alejo, D-Salinas; and Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, now goes to the state Senate.

“Government has a responsibility to facilitate the civic participation of citizens and remove barriers to voting,” Padilla said in a news release issued Tuesday afternoon. “The New Motor Voter Act could seamlessly register millions of eligible California citizens, which would promote greater voter turnout.”

Padilla is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech Wednesday morning at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony at Oakland’s Paramount Theater; about 1,000 new citizens are expected to take the Oath of Allegiance at the ceremony.

And Padilla also is scheduled to be the guest speaker at the City of Alameda Democratic Club’s monthly meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday night at the College of Alameda Student Center. He’s expected to discuss his office’s work to encourage higher voting participation and bring more Californians into the political process.

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Tools you can use for the Nov. 4 election

As the election advertising reaches fever pitch, burning up your TV and clogging your mailbox, here are a few resources for cutting through the smoke:

Voters Edge, set up by MAPLight.org and the League of Women Voters California Education Fund, takes your home address and presents you with a virtual version of your ballot with click-throughs that not only informs you about the measures and candidates, but also provides a run-down of those measures’ and candidates’ biggest campaign donors.

California Choices, a collaborative effort by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Next 10 and UC-Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies, has updated its website to include guides to the six statewide ballot measures, as well as a page where you can compare endorsements from unions, nonprofits, parties and news organizations.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit California Voter Foundation’s guide is pretty easy to navigate. And, though you should’ve received it in the mail already, the state’s Official Voter Information Guide is available online as well.

Don’t forget: Next Monday, Oct. 20 is the last day to register to vote in this election. You can do so online, or pick up a paper voter registration application at your county elections office, library, Department of Motor Vehicles offices, or U.S. post office.

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GO REGISTER TO VOTE. NOW.

If you’re not yet registered to vote in the June 3 primary election, you only have one more week in which to get signed up.

The deadline is next Monday, May 19, Secretary of State Debra Bowen reminds Californians. “With the deadline to register to vote almost here, now is the time to get it done and check it off your ‘to-do’ list,” she said. “Registering to vote is now easier than ever for eligible Californians, so there is no need to wait.”

Eligible Californians can register online at RegisterToVote.ca.gov or get a paper application at local libraries, U.S. post offices, California Department of Motor Vehicles offices, and many more places. Voter registration closes 15 days prior to any California election.

A person must re-register to vote after moving or changing names, or to change his or her political party preference. Voters can check their registration status by contacting their county registars’ offices; a list of websites and phone numbers is available at www.sos.ca.gov/elections/registration-status.

Remember: If you don’t register and vote, you get whatever everyone else thinks you deserve and you have no right to complain.

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Online voter registration now in 10 languages

Californians can now do online voter registration in 10 languages, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced Monday.

In addition to the English and Spanish versions already available, the Secretary of State’s office has now added Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese. Also, the RegisterToVote.ca.gov has been redesigned to be simpler and more user-friendly, with better accessibility features for people with disabilities.

“After moving some mountains to quickly launch online voter registration in time for the 2012 presidential election season, I wanted to see what could be done to make it even better,” Bowen said in a news release. “This enhanced application is a result of in-depth collaboration among dozens of experts in cultural, language, disability access, elections and technology issues, along with local officials and the California State University Accessible Technology Initiative. I am grateful to them all for their valuable input.”

Community advocates had pushed for this expansion, noting that Asian Americans in California tend to have a relatively low voter registration rate.

“California has millions of immigrant citizens who are still learning English, citizens we need as full participants in our democracy,” Michelle Romero, director of the Greenlining Institute’s Claiming Our Democracy program, said in a news release. “This is an important step to help bridge the voter registration gap in communities of color.”

The information provided in a voter application still must be checked by a county registrar before an applicant can be added to the voter rolls; voters can check on their own registration status using the state’s portal to county offices. Monday, May 19 is the voter registration deadline for the upcoming June 3 primary election.

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Online registration grabs low-, mid-income voters

The new online voter registration system that California launched last fall isn’t just getting more people registered – it’s getting different people registered.

More registrants come from low- and middle-income neighborhoods than expected, according to a study just released by researchers Lisa García Bedolla, a Cal associate professor of education and of political science, and Véronica Velez, a postdoctoral research fellow at Cal’s Center for Latino Policy Research.

“Given voters in California are, on average, significantly more affluent than the general population, this study suggests that online voter registration opened up the … process to a wider range of voters in terms of their socioeconomic status,” García Bedolla and Velez reported.

Based on data from each of California’s 58 counties, the state’s online drive that ran from Sept. 19 through Oct. 21 generated 839,297 new registered voters. Some 22.6 percent were Latino, 11.1 percent Asian, and about 59.8 percent white – breakdowns similar to the state’s overall voter registration.

But the researchers focused on census-tract data for the newly registered voters in San Diego and Alameda counties, two regions with similarly diverse populations but contrasting political tendencies – San Diego tending more conservative, Alameda County tending more liberal.

In San Diego County, 71 percent of Latino, 57 percent of white and 50 percent of Asian American online registrants lived in areas with medium incomes under $75,000. In Alameda County, the numbers were 65 percent for Latino registrants, 52 percent for whites and 44 percent for Asian Americans.

Garcia Bedolla said this suggests that “when we make the process easier, like letting you register after you Google it on your phone, folks participate.”

The study also found:

  • Women of color, rather than white women, are driving the gender gap in Democratic party identification among the online registrants.
  • A significant proportion of eligible voters over age 35, particularly white men, registered online.
  • Latina and female Asian American voters were more likely to vote than were Latinos and Asian American men.
  • Only among white registrants and voters is there near gender parity in registration and turnout.