Palm Beach County state Senator Jeff Clemens filed legislation this week (SB 72) that would automatically register Floridians to vote when they apply for or renew their driver’s license. “The reason is pretty simple – nobody should have to jump through an extra hoop to exercise their constitutional rights,” says Clemens, who edged out Irv Slosberg in a fiercely combative primary in the Democratic-leaning Senate District 31 in August. Clemens says this is either the third or fourth time he’s proposed such a bill, and he says that his fellow Republicans should embrace it.
“There’s been an initial skepticism, as if there’s some sort of Democratic plot,” he says. “As we’ve seen in other states, whatever ratio that the people are registering in that state, that’s the same ratio as we increase registration. We have to alleviate the fears that this is some sort of partisan plot.” If passed, Florida would join Oregon and California in passing such legislation.
Clemens was behind the 2015 legislation that will allow applicants with a driver’s license or state ID to submit voter registration applications online beginning next month. The bill utilizes the electronic signature on file with the motor vehicles department to process the applications, as long as the voter applicants’ names match their DMV records. If the information does not match, the system will populate the applicant’s information into a form that must be printed, signed, and delivered to the election official.