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California Secretary of State Padilla on voter registration deadline, security and the future




Voter registration and sample pamphlets in multiple languages were available after a naturalization ceremony at the L.A. Convention Center.
Voter registration and sample pamphlets in multiple languages were available after a naturalization ceremony at the L.A. Convention Center.
Benjamin Brayfield/KPCC

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The election is now just about two weeks away and Monday marks a very important deadline in California:

It's the last day to register to vote.

Screenshot from California's voter registry website. The deadline to register in California is Monday, October 24th.
Screenshot from California's voter registry website. The deadline to register in California is Monday, October 24th.
Via Registertovote.ca.gov

Earlier today, Alex Cohen spoke with California's Secretary of State Alex Padilla about the importance of Monday's deadline.

Interview Highlights

What's the deadline?

"In order to cast a ballot this November you have to be registered to vote. Good news? There's more than 18 million people already on the voter rolls in California. We're at a record high for the state's history. The bad news is there's another six and a half million plus people eligible but not registered so anybody who wants to cast a ballot this November has to be registered. Today is the last day to do so. You can go find that form at the post office or the library but you can also do it online at registertovote.ca.gov."

Why is today the deadline, what does that say about the process...how long does it take and what's the process for registering voters?

"I'll be honest, in this day and age, there really is no good reason why we have a 15-days-before-the-election deadline to register to vote. It used to be a 30-day before election day deadline for no other reason other than at some point the county has to stop the process of registration and go to print the list of voters that they will then dispatch to every polling place in the county and we know who's on the list and who's not.

The good news is, starting next year the sam- day registration law that's been passed and signed into law in California will kick in. But for the purposes of this November, you have to be registered before the deadline, today is that deadline so you can do it on paper or do it online before midnight at registertovote.ca.gov."

There's been talk of things potentially being rigged, there've been all sorts of digital data breaches of late, tell us why people should not be concerned that the elections could be rigged.

"The more this question keeps coming up, it's doing a disservice to the extent that people feel that their vote may not count. When we raise questions, we raise doubts, it may give folks a reason to maybe not participate which may be the objectives of some that keep raising these false questions and concerns. But the reason I feel confident that in California our systems are secure are many. Number one, the machines that we use to vote on in California to mark our ballots, to cast our ballots, to even count our ballots, by law cannot be connected to the Internet. So, there is just no way for somebody to systematically hack or rig our elections sitting from a garage somewhere, a basement somewhere whether it's in California or anywhere throughout the world and more people need to be aware of that..."

Let's talk about the future. Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 450 not that long ago, which you sponsored. This will modernize elections here in California. Can you remind us how exactly they'll change going forward, and when?

"So starting next July, anybody who's eligible to vote when they go to the DMV to apply for or renew a driver's license or a state ID, or even if you're renewing online, you'll be systematically registered to vote in the process and we think that'll go a long way in getting those six million plus eligible unregistered voters in California on the rolls for future elections...

The bill that went through this year, Senate Bill 450 gives counties the option of connecting elections in a way that just means modern times. Currently, our options for voting are either by mail, which is pretty convenient and more and more people are doing it. But if you want to vote in person your only option is one designated location close to where you live on election day between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. What we've called for is a system where every voter can automatically receive their ballot in the mail, you don't have to ask for it or sign up for it...

In the weeks leading up to the election and for the people who prefer that in-person option, with a little bit of technology we can afford voters the option of going to any voting location in the county not just that designated place by where you live because maybe it's more convenient to vote closer to work...and not just on election day, Senate Bill 450 calls for at least 10 days of in-person voting leading up to and including election day..."

To hear the full interview, click the blue play button above.

(Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity)