California’s New Voting Law: A Step Forward or a Path to Voter Suppression?

**California’s New Voting Law: A Step Forward or a Path to Voter Suppression?**.


In September 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law a sweeping election reform bill, known as Assembly Bill 37 (AB 37). The law introduces a number of changes to the state’s voting system, including expanding vote-by-mail, establishing automatic voter registration, and creating new safeguards against voter intimidation..

**Provisions of AB 37**.

* **Vote-by-Mail Expansion:** AB 37 requires all registered voters to receive a vote-by-mail ballot for all elections, regardless of whether they request one. This provision is intended to make voting more convenient and accessible for all Californians..

* **Automatic Voter Registration:** AB 37 simplifies voter registration by automatically registering eligible Californians who interact with certain state agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This measure aims to increase voter turnout by making registration easier..

* **New Safeguards Against Voter Intimidation:** AB 37 prohibits voter intimidation and harassment, and establishes a new state commission to investigate and prosecute such incidents. The law also provides additional protections for voters who are targeted based on their race, ethnicity, or other characteristics..

**Arguments in Favor of AB 37**.

Proponents of AB 37 argue that the law will make voting more accessible, convenient, and secure. They point to the success of vote-by-mail in states like Washington and Oregon, where it has led to increased voter turnout and reduced costs. They also argue that automatic voter registration will eliminate barriers to registration, particularly for low-income and marginalized communities..

**Arguments Against AB 37**.

Opponents of AB 37 argue that the law will lead to voter fraud and undermine the integrity of elections. They express concerns about the potential for vote harvesting, where individuals or organizations collect and submit ballots on behalf of other voters. They also worry that automatic voter registration could result in ineligible individuals being added to the voter rolls..

**Potential Impact of AB 37**.

The full impact of AB 37 remains to be seen, but the law has the potential to significantly reshape California’s voting system. It is likely to increase voter turnout, particularly among groups that have historically faced barriers to voting. However, it is also possible that the law could lead to some unintended consequences, such as increased opportunities for voter fraud or challenges with ballot counting..


AB 37 is a landmark piece of legislation that represents a significant shift in California’s approach to voting. While the law has the potential to expand access to voting and improve the integrity of elections, it is important to monitor its implementation and address any potential unintended consequences..

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