Californians will be able to register to vote on election day at local polling places and voting centers under legislation signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday, a potentially significant step toward boosting turnout in key contests next year.
The new law provides for a significant expansion of so-called conditional voter registration, which allows a new voter to cast a ballot that is counted after eligibility is determined during the 30-day vote-counting period after an election. That process began in last year’s statewide election, but registration was available only in county elections offices. Starting next year, voters can register on election day anywhere ballots are cast.
“This simply enfranchises more people to vote,” said state Sen. Tom Umberg (D-Santa Ana), the author of the new law. “The presidential race is one thing, but this is going to make an even bigger difference in turnout for local races.”
Sixteen states, along with the District of Columbia, already allow election day voter registration. Supporters have argued the laws boost turnout, as some voters become energized by political campaigns only after registration deadlines have passed. Prior to Newsom signing the new law, California’s voter registration deadline was 15 days before election day.
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