In a bid to improve California's lagging voter participation, lawmakers in the Assembly approved two measures Tuesday that aim to increase registration among eligible citizens.
One bill, by Assemblyman Marc Levine (D-San Rafael), would require the Department of Motor Vehicles to satisfy the existing federal "Motor Voter" law, under which eligible individuals can choose to register to vote when getting a drivers license at the DMV.
"For 22 years, the DMV has only partially complied with Motor Voter," said Levine. "Because of this partial compliance, Motor Voter has been a failure in California."
Levine noted that Gov. Jerry Brown had set aside money to update the department's technology, making such compliance possible.
His bill, AB 786, passed the Assembly on a 53-13 vote.
Republicans were less supportive of the bill. Assemblywoman Catherine Baker (R-San Ramon) said the automatic registration "takes away the choice of citizens in this country to decide whether or not to register to vote."
The bill, AB 1461, passed on a 45-25 vote.
Acknowledging the dueling policy approaches of the two proposals, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) said both measures have advanced because it was "a discussion [that was] important to have on the Assembly floor."