AFSCME District Council 36

California Bucks Trend of Voter Rights Suppression With Padilla’s Leadership

 As part of the Political and Legislative Action Committee program, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla dropped by Council 36 in recent days to discuss new bills that would improve the state’s current voting system.

While voting rights are being rolled back in other states due to right-wing voter suppression campaigns, Padilla intends to reverse the tide in California. He is authoring, sponsoring or supporting a number of bills designed to enfranchise voters, particularly in working families and communities of color, by making the process of casting ballots easier and more accessible.

For example, the California New Motor Voter Act (AB 1461), will automatically register every eligible citizen when they apply for or renew a driver’s license or state ID card. He anticipates this will substantially increase the number of people who vote because all registered voters receive ballot information in the mail, and that increases the likelihood that they will become involved.

Another innovative bill is The California Voter’s Choice Act (SB450), which would enable voters to return the ballots they receive in the mail within 11 days and at any “vote center” in the County -- not just at your own designated polling station. Vote centers would look and feel more “updated” and equipped with modern technological features like full database of voters rather than pre-printed lists. Already implemented in Colorado, not only does this increase voting accessibility, it has been shown to actually lower County expenses on voting by 20% to 25%.

Padilla is also trying to move legislation that would put California at the forefront of the national primary elections, and make our state more influential. That bill, which is culling bi-partisan support according to Padilla, changes the date of its presidential primary elections to three months sooner than it is currently. Padilla reasoned, we are the most populous state in the nation and “the State of the Resistance,” so why should we be the last state on the map to have a say?

When elected Padilla stated he never imagined his responsibilities would include Twitter battles with the President. Trump, since being elected, has continuously leveled unfounded accusations of fraudulent voting at California. Though he provides no evidence whatsoever, he has created a new “Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” in order to “investigate” voter fraud and is demanding every state provide the commission with its voter rolls.

Padilla has refused to do that. Trump is expecting states to provide every voter’s full name, party registration, voting history, felony convictions, and Social Security number among other personal information. For the privacy and safety of California citizens, he says, Padilla has hired a legal team to fight Trump’s scheme.

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