California this week became the 11th US state to offer online voting registration. Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced the move in a press release Wednesday, adding that the new system should make it easier to reach the 6.5 million eligible Californians who remain unregistered. The state's website went live on Wednesday, and within its first 12 hours, saw more than 3,000 new registrations.
To register online, California residents must verify their identity by entering their date of birth, the last four digits of their social security number, and the number on their drivers license or state-issued identity card. With these fields completed, users can submit their application by authorizing the digital signature already on file with the California DMV.
"Today we are taking the next step."
Prior to Wednesday's launch, California residents had to submit registration forms by mail, though Bowen said that security will be just as rigorous for online applicants, as all voter information must still be verified by election officials.
She went on to stress the significance of adding California — the country's most populous state — to the relatively small group of states currently offering online registration. Arizona became the first state to offer online voting registration in 2002, while Washington became the first to offer registration through Facebook in July.
"Today the Internet replaces the mailbox for thousands of Californians wanting to register to vote," Bowen said. "Today we are taking the next step in the never-ending evolution of democracy and reaching every Californian."