Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, introduced a bill this week that would create a uniform set of rules for elections officials to process signed voter registration cards of U.S. citizens, even if the place of birth box is left blank.
California is just one of 10 states that requires the place of birth box to be filled out. Currently, if the U.S. citizen box is checked, but the place of birth box is left blank, some county officials set aside the card in a “pending” file, and then contact the individual by mail to ask the person to complete the form.
This process causes delays for eligible California voters and requires elections officials to use government time and resources to verify place of birth, even though the information doesn’t have any bearing on whether the person is allowed to vote.
“This is a simple fix that is long overdue,” Williams said. “This law will allow officials to protect voting rights and help counties save money.”
California law already allows elections officials to process cards if other boxes are left blank.
The existing statute assumes that a person is not affiliated with a party or that he or she does not have a middle name if those boxes are left blank on a voter registration card.
“A person’s birthplace has no bearing on eligibility to vote in this state,” said Secretary of State Debra Bowen, California’s chief elections official. “By making California’s voter registration form more consistent with federal requirements and the forms in most other states, we can eliminate unnecessary delays for many eligible Californians.”
Bowen is also a sponsor of AB 131.
— Josh Molina is a communications specialist for Assemblyman Das Williams.