Starting in April of 2018, the million-plus Californians who renew their driver’s license or state identification by mail each year can use their renewal form to register to vote or update their voter registration. These changes are thanks to a negotiated settlement in a federal lawsuit brought by Morrison & Foerster, Demos, the ACLU Voting Rights Project, and the ACLU Foundation of Northern California. The new procedures will be implemented as part of the New Motor Voter Act, also known as AB 1461, which requires that eligible citizens become registered to vote during their DMV transactions unless they opt-out of voter registration.
Morrison & Foerster and its co-counsel represented the League of Women Voters of California, California Common Cause, ACCE Institute, and UnidosUS. The case began in 2015, when the plaintiffs notified the California Secretary of State, the State Transportation Agency, and the Department of Motor Vehicles of noncompliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a law requiring the DMV to incorporate voter registration into applications, renewals, and changes of address submitted to it. The DMV subsequently incorporated voter registration into its applications and online renewals pursuant to a 2016 Memorandum of Understanding with plaintiffs, but a dispute persisted over whether the DMV would bring renewal-by-mail transactions into compliance with the NVRA in time for the 2018 elections.
“We are very pleased that Californians will have easier access to voter registration,” Jeremiah Levine, MoFo’s lead attorney on the case, said. “We are especially satisfied that changes will be made before California’s statewide and federal primary elections.”