Voting Rights

Why it matters

The League of Women Voters has been fighting for voting rights for a hundred years. In California, we have spearheaded cutting-edge reforms to make voting more accessible, convenient, and fair. We don’t face the overt voter suppression that threatens some other states. However, California is a “majority-minority” state (our population is majority Latino/a, Asian-American, and other groups) with a conversely unrepresentative, older, white, wealthy electorate. Expanding voter participation to include the full breadth of California’s diverse population, including those who are people of color, young, have disabilities, or whose primary language is not English, is the core of our voting rights mission.

What we’re doing

Expanding access

  • Free the Vote, ACA 6. We co-sponsored a bill for a constitutional amendment to restore voting rights to 50,000 Californians on parole, living and working in our communities. Mass incarceration disproportionately impacts Black and Brown Californians and results in a less representative electorate. Freeing the vote is a moral imperative, sound public policy, and essential to achieving an inclusive democracy. Our goal was to get ACA 6 passed through the legislature and on the November 2020 ballot as an initiative for voters to decide. 
  • Same Day Registration. Since 2020, it’s never too late to register to vote in California. League-sponsored Election Day Registration expands same-day registration and voting, making it available at every polling place and early vote centers through Election Day. The purpose of the new law is to increase voter turnout, eliminate arbitrary deadlines that deny access at the peak of voter interest, and boost the registration of geographically mobile Californians, those with lower incomes, youth, and people of color. 
  • Increasing Voter Registration. It’s no accident that California recently achieved the highest percentage of eligible voters registered in 67 years. We have been working hard on increasing voter registration. Highlights include:
    • Motor Voter/Automated Voter Registration. The Department of Motor Vehicles now provides Californians with a convenient, modern way to register to vote and update registrations when applying for or renewing a license or identification card. We work to ensure proper administration of the new opt-out system. Despite start-up problems, millions have been successfully registered and the new system is reported to have resulted in a 26.8% growth in registration rates. More from our Secretary of State.
    • Pre-Register at 16, Vote at 18: Online pre-registration is now available for eligible 16 and 17-year-olds. California youth who pre-register to vote will have their registration become active once they turn 18 years old.
  • The Voter’s Choice Act: We provide tools and technical assistance, in partnership with Voter’s Choice California, to counties choosing new Voter’s Choice Act (VCA) elections. Under the VCA, every registered voter is mailed a ballot, and voters have the option of returning their ballot by mail, at a ballot drop box, or any vote center in their county. Check out our Voter’s Choice Act Toolkit. The California Civic Engagement Project provides an in-depth San Mateo County VCA Study and a 5-County Resource Center.

Counting More Ballots

The League advocates for laws to make sure your vote is counted.

  • No stamp? No problem. Now all vote-by-mail ballots are postage prepaid.
  • Did you forget to sign or use a signature that failed to match the one on file? Now you’ll get notified of the problem and have an opportunity to fix it.
  • Need to return your vote by mail ballot? Now you can designate anyone to do it – not just a family or household member.

Building Voter Confidence

Voters have the right to plain-language, trustworthy, accessible information so they can make choices that align with their values. Highlights of our efforts include:

  • Our unbiased online election guide, Vote411, allows you to view your entire ballot, in English or Spanish after entering your address. Vote411 includes national, state, and local contests along with polling locations and other helpful voter information.
  • The Easy Voter Guide, produced in partnership with the California State Library, provides new voters and busy voters with unbiased, community-reviewed information in five languages for statewide elections.

Want to learn more?

Find out more about our current legislative work listed in our Bill Status Report.

How can you get involved?

Learn how you can become part of the League’s group of active volunteers on this issue!

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