AB 131, approved by the Committee on Tuesday, would create one set of rules for election officials to process signed voter registration cards of U.S. citizens, even if the place of birth box is left blank.
“I am excited to see this important bill move forward,” said Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara. “This is a simple fix that will allow counties to save money and protect people’s voting rights.”
Currently, if the U.S. citizen box is checked and the form is signed, but the place of birth box is left blank, some county officials set aside the card in a “pending” file, and then contact the individual by mail to ask the person to complete the form.
This bill would allow officials to process the voter registration card as long as the form is signed and the person is a U.S. citizen.
Up to 500 local people in Santa Barbara County had their voter registration cards rejected in the last election because of failure to fill out the duplicative box on the form, Williams said.
California is just one of 10 states in the nation that requires the place of birth box to be filled out. This process causes delays for eligible California voters and requires elections officials to use government time and resources to verify place of birth, even though the information doesn’t have any bearing on whether the person is allowed to vote.
California law already allows elections officials to process cards if other boxes are left blank.
For example, the existing statute assumes that a person is not affiliated with a party or that he or she does not have a middle name if those boxes are left blank on a voter registration card.
The California Secretary of State is also a sponsor of AB 131.