California is bucking a national trend this election season, making it easier for people to vote while many states are making it harder. Those forms you may remember picking up from the library or post office are no longer necessary to register to vote. With a few mouse clicks, Californians can now register or update their registration. Because of a law Gov. Jerry Brown signed last month, state residents also should be able to register to vote as late as Election Day by the next presidential election in 2016. Over time, experts believe, the changes will add many new voters to the rolls – especially those who are young or non-white, groups less likely to register now. Compare that with other parts of the country, where lawmakers are reducing registration opportunities or establishing new requirements that voters show photo identification at the polls.
The reason for the difference can be explained largely by politics. States passing voter ID laws tend to be controlled by Republicans. They argue the need to thwart voter fraud, but also tend to benefit from a smaller, more conservative electorate. Democrats, in charge in California, argue that the electoral process needs to be accessible to more people – a dynamic that helps their candidates’ chances. Young people are driving California’s population shift toward more diversity.