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Blog Post · May 6, 2015

Automatic Voter Registration Is No Panacea

This commentary was published on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, in the Sacramento Bee.

California voter turnout has reached record lows. Only 18 percent of 24 million eligible adults cast ballots in the June 2014 primary and only 31 percent last November. As a result, state lawmakers and good government groups are searching for new ways to increase participation in elections.

One proposal that is gaining traction—and was discussed at a recent Public Policy Institute of California event with Secretary of State Alex Padilla and other officials—is to import an automatic voter registration system from Oregon.

There’s no question that such a system would swell California’s voter rolls. But would it significantly increase turnout? That’s much less clear.

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