As voter suppression laws spread across the country, voting rights advocates can take heart: the biggest state in the nation is on the cusp of passing a major voter protection initiative. Election Day Registration (EDR), which allows citizens to register up to and on Election Day, passed the California State Senate today by a party-line vote of 23-13. AB 1436 had passed the State Assembly in May 47-26. Under current law, Californians cannot register to vote in the final two weeks before an election, just as many Americans are beginning to tune in. EDR will eliminate that deadline, ensuring that no citizen is disenfranchised because he or she wasn’t registered beforehand.
This won’t just benefit slackers. Historically-disenfranchised citizens like minorities and poorer Americans, will particularly benefit from EDR. On average, studies have found that EDR boosts voter turnout by seven percentage points. Common Cause’s Phillip Ung told ThinkProgress he “expects voter turnout to increase by the hundreds of thousands” solely as a result of EDR. Eight states currently allow their citizens to register on Election Day: Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. California is poised to become the latest, and by far the largest, state to enact EDR.