Commentary: Fix Cal Voter Snags Now

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, April 14, 2006

Since January 1, some 26% of the people who registered to vote for the first time or have attempted to update their voting records have been rejected by CalVoter, the new statewide voter validation list required under federal law. Most have been rejected because they did not include their drivers license or DMV ID number on their registration forms.

County registrars are supposed to phone or mail rejected voters to get the missing numbers, a significant burden now, as officials rush to prepare for the June 6th primary. Even when they can be reached, many people refuse to give their drivers license number to strangers who call asking for it. Understandably, they worry about identity theft.

Secretary of State Bruce McPherson wants the Legislature to pass an urgency bill that would allow registrars to fill in missing numbers when the voter's identity is clear. That is, when the name and birthdate on the registration form exactly match the DMV's record. Others argue that's not necessary - McPherson can just change his regulations.

There is no time to squabble. The June primary is just weeks away. Do both, and do it quickly. Don't let the state's muddled bureaucracy get in the way of a citizen's precious right to vote.


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.