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Californians could be able to register online to vote in time for the 2012 elections if legislation headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk is signed into law.

Senate Bill 397, by Democratic Sen. Leland Yee, cleared its final legislative hurdle today when the state Senate approved amendments offered in the Assembly by a vote of 23-13.

The bill would allow online voter registration to begin ahead of the completion of a new statewide voter registration database under development. That project, VoteCal, isn't expected to be fully implemented until at least 2015.

The legislation directs elections officials to work with the Department of Motor Vehicles to create a process for matching registration information submitted online with an electronic copy of a signature on file at the DMV.

Supporters say the move will make it easier for eligible voters to register and save election officials money over time, pointing out that nine other states already allow voters to register via the Internet and several others are in the process of creating such a system.

"In the 21st century, especially here in California, it is long overdue to have online voter registration. SB 397 will not only help protect the integrity of the vote, but will allow many more individuals the opportunity to register and participate in our democracy," Yee, of San Francisco, said in a committee analysis of the bill.

The DMV has opposed the bill, questioning whether creating such a system before VoteCal is finished is an efficient use of time and resources. Some critics have also raised concerns about potential voter fraud.

What do you think?


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