Registering to vote online in California would've happened eventually. State officials had been expecting to go that route after 2015, when a new statewide voter database is due to be finished.
But Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) calls the change "long overdue." His measure, SB397, which landed on the governor's desk Friday, requires California to join states like Arizona and Oregon in moving toward an on-line registration system by next year's elections.
Right now, county election officials compare a voter's signature to their signature on a paper registration form. The new law, if signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, tells the DMV to develop a system of digitized signatures that could be used by election officials for voter verification.
The DMV is not happy about the rush and the extra workload, saying, "it is unlikely that the programming required by this bill could be accomplished in time for the 2012 election without jeopardizing other projects."
But backers, including the Los Angeles Registrar-Recorder, say the change is needed now in order to save money and boost turnout. LA County officials estimate that more than a million eligible county voters have not even registered.
Supporters say the measure will also solve security issues and inaccuracies in record-keeping.
Gov. Brown has 30 days to decide whether to sign or veto the measure.