Capitol Alert

How will parties respond to more independents? + Brown’s desk is stacked high with bills + Superintendent debate

Secretary of State Alex Padilla explains ‘motor voter’ bill

Formerly known as Assembly Bill 1461, the legislation automatically registers adult citizens to vote at the DMV when they get or renew a driver's license -- unless they opt out.
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Formerly known as Assembly Bill 1461, the legislation automatically registers adult citizens to vote at the DMV when they get or renew a driver's license -- unless they opt out.


California is seeing an unusual uptick in voters registered without a party preference through the state’s new Motor Voter program. Nearly three in five unregistered voters declare themselves as “no party preference” when they visit the Department of Motor Vehicles. Meanwhile, existing voters are starting to move away from their party, with 37 percent of previously registered Democrats and 35 percent of previous Republicans.


Motor Voter registration at the California DMV went into effect on April 23. Since then, an outsized proportion of people – Democrats, Republicans and previous unregistered people – have ended up registered with No Party Preference.
Graphic: Nathaniel Levine • Source: California Secretary of State email

The state’s Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment when reached about whether it is concerned about the trend or views the Motor Voter program as a self-inflicted wound.

Republicans do not appear concerned, saying the party will not change its messaging in the near future. Matt Fleming, a spokesman for the CA GOP, said Democrats lost twice as many people through the Motor Voter program. Fleming acknowledged he sees people turning away from both parties.

He said, “I don’t have a great answer as to why voters are becoming more and more independent, but no party preference voters do vote for us. ... The message is (continuing) advocating for lower taxes, smaller government intrusion on our lives, increased personal freedom, safety and security, educational choice.”


All eyes will be on Gov. Jerry Brown this month as he considers several hundred bills passed in the California Legislature. According the governor’s office, Brown has 919 bills to consider, as of Friday afternoon.

Brown has already vetoed a small handful of bills this month. In a veto message released Friday, he threw shade at the state’s ballot, saying the ballot and ballot pamphlet “have become a hodgepodge of confusing, excessive and often redundant words and explanations.” Assembly Bill 2552 required the Secretary of State to create a ballot design advisory committee.


The Sacramento Press Club is hosting a special debate at 5 p.m. Tuesday between two Democrats running for California superintendent of public instruction. The debate will be held in Sacramento at the State Building & Construction Trades Council.

Tony Thurmond, a Democratic Assemblyman from Richmond, and Marshall Tuck, a former school executive in Los Angeles, will outline their differing views on state educational policy. Charter schools, teacher pay and school funding will be among the many topics of discussion.

Turmond has previously said he wants a “pause” on new charters while Tuck has a lighter regulatory approach. The campaigns each have nearly $500,000 available cash, according to the most campaign finance report.


Assemblyman David Chiu (@DavidChiu) — “Kavanaugh won’t even admit that the Chinese Exclusion Act was wrong. His testimony over the past few days has been truly disturbing.”

MUST-READ: Motor Voter sparks unusual spike in ‘no party’ registrations at California DMV


The Bee’s Editorial Board offers its endorsement on Measure U — the Sacramento sales tax heading to voters in November.

Columnist Erika Smith urges Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a net neutrality bill.

David Brame, a Rocklin resident who volunteers for Moms Demand Action, wants Brown to sign Assembly Bill 2103, which requires that concealed weapon permit applicants demonstrate their ability to safely handle the gun.

Bill Whalen, a Hoover Institution research fellow and former speechwriter for Gov. Pete Wilson, wonders if 2018 will be another watershed election for California.

Josette Lewis, associate vice president for sustainable agriculture at Environmental Defense Fund, believes California agriculture will show the world how to lead on climate change at the the Global Climate Action Summit Sept. 12-14 in San Francisco.

Chet Hewitt, president and CEO of the Sierra Health Foundation, says theer are two key questions to ask California candidates: What are the candidate’s core values? And what is their world view?

Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the nonpartisan Bay Area Council, discusses how California voters should prepare for the upcoming election this November.

Gary Bradford, who represents District 4 on the Yuba County Board of Supervisors, believes divesting in fossil fuels would result in significant losses for CalPERS and CalSTRS.\

Orson Aguilar, president of The Greenlining Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Oakland, worries Assembly Bill 237 would make predatory lending worse. He wants Brown to veto the bill.


Jack Ohman looks at the week’s California headlines.

Jack Ohman also cracks open two Bob Woodward books.