Voting rightsAs this editorial in this morning’s Charlotte Observer explains, California has hit on a startlingly simple tactic that will both boost voting rates and shine a bright light on the actual reason conservative political leaders keep instituting new roadblocks to voting: automatic voter registration for all driver’s license holders.

The “New Motor Voter Act” will automatically register all eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew a state driver’s license. It’s the second such law in the country; Oregon goes even further by automatically registering all eligible adult citizens in the Department of Motor Vehicle’s database.

Federal law already allows for voters to choose to be registered to vote at DMVs. But as California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said: “Citizens should not be required to opt-in to their fundamental right to vote. We do not have to opt-in to other rights, such as free speech and due process.”

California officials say that 7 million additional voters will be registered because of the law. Certainly, eligibility doesn’t guarantee participation, as low voter turnout percentages across the country show. But the law does remove one barrier to voting.

The editorial goes on to say this about the politics of the change:

“All of which leads us to a somewhat delicious feature of automatic voter registration: It lays bare the reason Republicans really don’t want more people casting ballots – because those voters might vote against them.

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In case you missed our Crucial Conversation this past Tuesday, here’s the video of the event: (Enjoy!)

2014 is here and, for now, North Carolina government remains stubbornly in the tea party camp. Are voters happy about this? What do they think about the current state of affairs and the politicians running the show? What’s likely to happen this May? How about this November?

And what’s on the state policy agenda for the coming months? Are conservatives wrapping up their agenda or just getting started?

Tom Jensen is the Director of the nationally recognized polling firm, Public Policy Polling and oversees its day-to-day operations. During his time at PPP, he has been a frequent guest for television and radio stations across the region and has been called on for expert analysis by publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor and U.S. News and World Report. He writes PPP’s blog and Twitter account in addition to crafting the content for most of its surveys.

Chris Fitzsimon is the Director of NC Policy Watch and North Carolina’s leading progressive media personality. Chris is a veteran journalist and nonprofit leader whose daily commentaries are heard on radio and read online throughout North Carolina.