Kavanagh Voter Registration Bill Passes

June 15, 2009
On June 15, 2009, the Assembly passed a bill introduced by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, as part of a package of bills aimed at improving the way boards of elections throughout the state handle paper ballots such as absentee and affidavit ballots.

Affidavit ballots are cast by people who go to a polling place on Election Day to vote but whose names are not found in the poll books or, in the case of a primary election, who are not listed as being enrolled in the party in which they believe they are enrolled. Affidavit voters sign a sworn statement that they believe they are duly registered voters qualified to vote and they cast their vote by affidavit ballot. Once affidavit ballots are cast, the board of elections checks its records and counts the ballots of those who were properly registered in advance of the election. However, the ballots of people not properly registered are not counted.

Kavanagh’s bill requires the board of elections to take the process one step further and use the affidavit ballot form as an indication that the voter wishes to be registered to vote. Thus while their vote will not count for the election for which they submitted the affidavit (because they were not, in fact, registered in advance for that election as required by the State Constitution), the next time they present themselves at the polling place, they will find their registration properly recorded in the poll book, and will be allowed to vote on the standard voting machine.