By Paul Feinberg
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (Riordan Fellow ’97) ran for office on a platform that included a pledge to increase voter turnout. Last week, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that allows Californians to be automatically registered to vote when they utilized Department of Motor Vehicle Services to obtain or renew a driver’s license. Padilla was a strong advocate for the new law as a means to increase voter participation.
“The new Motor Voter Act will make our democracy stronger by removing a key barrier to voting for millions of California citizens,” Padilla said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Citizens should not be required to opt in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt in to other rights, such as free speech or due process.”
Earlier this year, Padilla was honored by the Riordan Programs at UCLA Anderson with its Legacy Award. Upon receiving the award he encouraged his fellow alumni and the current Riordan Scholars to make use of the program to change the world as they wish to see it changed. “In our own ways,” he said, “we have overcome obstacles, and the program has helped us along the way. Tonight, let us honor the program and think on how, too often, we are seen as the exception to the rule. It weighs on me to be the exception, let us try to make it so that this becomes the rule.”
The new legislation goes into effect at the start of 2016, but there is much work to be done before it is officially implemented. In a published report, Padilla said, “It won’t be in time for the June primary of 2016. At the latest, for the 2018 election cycle, I expect millions of new voters on the rolls in the state of California.”