Analysis

California Continues to Upgrade Its Voter Registration Systems

Last month, California began rolling out its new voter registration database, VoteCal, a project that has been in the works for nearly a decade. The system will replace the 58 unique county registration systems with a unified statewide database. The rollout started with Sacramento and Orange counties, with El Dorado, Mendocino, and Solano counties scheduled to go live by Aug. 24 and additional counties implementing incrementally through March 2016.

With the new database, voters will be able to go online to check the status of their ballots, find their polling places, and verify whether provisional and vote-by-mail ballots were counted. Online voter registration, which has been available in California since 2012, will eventually be integrated with VoteCal.

As noted in a detailed report on the history of the system, VoteCal’s completion will also facilitate the implementation of recently passed legislative mandates, including:

  • Offering Election Day registration.
  • Allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote.
  • Giving voters the option to receive the state voter information guide electronically instead of by paper mail.

The secretary of state’s office will test the system in spring 2016 to ensure that it is fully functional and then will designate VoteCal as the official state database that June.

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