Online Voter Registration Now Available in 10 Languages
SACRAMENTO – California’s online voter registration website – launched in English and Spanish in 2012 – has now been expanded to include eight additional languages: Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Tagalog, Thai, and Vietnamese. In addition, the new system now has improved access for people with disabilities. People who want to register to vote can now visit http://registertovote.ca.gov and fill out an online form in any of these ten languages.
In 2012, the ACLU of California sponsored Senate Bill 35 (Padilla, 2012), which, among other things, required the Secretary of State to translate online voter registration into all languages in which California counties are required to offer voting materials under the federal Voting Rights Act. Voting rights advocates across the country commend the bill’s author, Senator Alex Padilla, and Governor Brown for signing it into law.
Online voter registration offers a convenient alternative to filling out a registration form at the local DMV office, or downloading a form, filling it out, and putting it in the mail. Before the November 2012 election, over half a million people used the online voter registration website to register as new voters.
Advocates expect this to help increase registration among Asian Americans and Latinos in California who tend to have relatively low voter registration rates. While 72 percent of non-Hispanic whites and 69 percent of African Americans in California reported being registered to vote in 2012, only 58 percent of Asians and 57 percent of Latinos were registered.
“This is an exciting moment for California, which continues to work toward expanding access to the electoral process at a time when so many other states are restricting the right to vote,” said Lori Shellenberger, director of ACLU of California Voting Rights Project. “Californians will now have equal access to the state’s online voter registration system, regardless of language preference or a possible disability. If you have access to a computer or a smartphone, you can submit a voter registration application in just a few minutes.”
Californians who want to vote in the June 3 primary but are not registered to vote, must register by May 19. Those who are already registered voters do not need to re-register unless they wish to update their address or change their political party affiliation.