The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, in a split 3-2 vote, moved to support legislation to automatically register eligible voters when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas recommended support for AB 1461, dubbed the California New Motor Voter Program, citing alarming declines in county voter turnout.

“As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, it is imperative that we clear away any barriers that prevent eligible voters from participating in the democratic process,” Ridley-Thomas told his colleagues.

Supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe cast the dissenting votes.

A report released last October by the California Secretary of State found that 73 percent of eligible voters were registered to vote. Voter turnout of 42 percent for the November mid-term election set a record low for regularly scheduled general elections.

The “motor voter” act, sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, would automatically place eligible voters on voter rolls as a result of their driver’s license transaction with the DMV.

Residents would have an opportunity to choose a party affiliation or opt out of registration after the fact.

In addition to encouraging voter participation, proponents argue that the automated system would also cut down on errors and save money by digitizing a paper process.

Opponents have raised concerns about voter fraud and privacy, saying that personal information should not become public without voters’ permission.

City News Service

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