President Trump has come up with sweeping lies for why he lost the popular vote in 2016, including falsely claiming mass voter fraud in California. Widespread voter fraud has repeatedly been debunked as a myth. Indeed, as the ACLU has made clear, lack of voter participation, not voter fraud, has been the real problem in California elections. Fortunately, in 2019, California Democrats were able to push for several measures to make elections fairer and more accessible.

A number of pro-voting measures have advanced this session, including establishing vote-by-mail voter centers on college campuses (AB 59), updating vote-by-mail (AB 49), promoting student voter awareness and engagement (AB 963), and expanding voter registration at high schools (AB 773). California Democrats also introduced legislation (AB 849SB 139) to prevent local gerrymandering

Thanks to a strong push from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla–a voting rights champion and member of the Let America Vote Board of Advisors–voting rights advancements have also been made in the vote restoration realm. California Democrats have advanced measures (ACA 6AB 646) that would restore voting rights to every person on parole in California. The Free the Vote Act seeks to restore voting rights to citizens who are in the community and paying taxes without the ability to vote. Separate legislation (AB 787) would also increase access to voting by requiring jails to allow organizations to conduct in-person voter registration activities, including vote-by-mail applications, and update state law to facilitate identifying eligible voters when they are released from imprisonment or parole. All eligible citizens should have the right to vote, and re-enfranchising parolees is a good first step.

California Republicans did not stop their efforts to suppress the vote, however, as they introduced legislation (SB 57) that would eliminate automatic voter registration at DMVs and instead require individuals to affirmatively opt-in to become registered or pre-registered. The legislation did not advance.