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Nine Years Later, California Gets New Voter Registration System

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

California is getting a new statewide voter registration system after nearly a decade of development and delay.

The state's existing voter registration system is aging, and isn’t compatible with modern technology. So as far back as 2006, the state started looking to modernize.

A failed contract and other delays plagued the “VoteCal” project through the administrations of four different Secretaries of State. But now it’s ready for implementation.

Once it's in place, the state will be able to offer Californians several new programs, including same-day voter registration.

“It’ll allow counties to check in real time whether those voters might have voted somewhere else,“ says Kim Alexander with the California Voter Foundation, who's been monitoring the project and released a policy brief Wednesday. “We need to be able to make sure that people aren’t voting twice, and this technology’s going to enable that.”

Voters will also be able to check their registration status online. And the system will retain voters’ history and preferences – such as whether they like to vote by mail – when they move from one county to another.

Two counties began the transition to VoteCal this week. Other counties will follow in the coming months. Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s office says full implementation is scheduled for next June.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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