New conditional voter registration a safety net

Ria Pai and Micaela Wong

California voters who missed the Oct. 22 registration deadline were able use a new law to vote on Election Day using conditional voter registration. 

Although conditional voter registration in California was passed in 2016, Tuesday marked the first time California voters were able to use conditional voter registration in a statewide general election, which acts as a last minute voting tool for voters who did not preregister to vote but still want to cast their ballot. The ability to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day is a safety net that allows California voters to vote despite passing the registration date to do so, according to the California Secretary of State’s website. Eligible residents were required to travel to their county elections office or other designated locations to participate.

According to ABC News, as of 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, around 700 of the 1,200 voters who voted at San Francisco City Hall were voters who registered that day. 

Paly alumnus Charles Yu, who is currently a college student in New York, was one of the voters who used conditional voter registration on Election Day in Santa Clara County.

“I usually get an absentee ballot, but this year I was a little bit busy, so I wasn’t able to fill one out before the registration date,” Yu said. “I just so happened to be back these two days, so I was like ‘why not vote in person?’”

Yu, who voted at a location in San Jose, said he waited in line for about four hours. However, Yu said he did not mind the wait.

“I think because I wasn’t constrained by time, it [the wait] was frankly not too bad for me,” Yu said. “I was able to read up on the measures a little bit better and the candidates I was thinking about while I was in line.”

Yu said he “appreciated” the ability to both register and vote on Election Day.

“I think it’s a good safety net,” Yu said. “I think even though it wasn’t necessarily the most pleasant experience, it was something I appreciated the option of having. I did exercise the right to vote, so I guess in some ways I am glad it’s there. … The turnout was great, there were a lot of people there, so definitely it seemed like people wanted to exercise their right to vote and people were taking that option.”