Access to local county voter registration databases is limited to each county, so the Secretary of State’s office and other county elections offices must actively share registration information. Information sharing between counties and the state is critical to keeping voter registration databases up-to-date. Currently, information sharing is performed via electronic file transfers as well as printed reports. Updates to voter records, as a result of information sharing, may take days or possibly weeks depending on the method in which information is shared.
In 2002, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) was signed into law. HAVA sought to address irregularities in voting systems, and required that each State implement a statewide voter registration system. To comply with HAVA requirements, the California Secretary of State is implementing a statewide voter registration database, VoteCal, which will become the official voter registration database used by county elections officials throughout the State. In November 2015, the San Bernardino County Elections Office will begin using VoteCal.
When fully implemented in all 58 counties by June 2016, VoteCal will provide a single, uniform, centralized statewide voter registration database, and will provide county elections officials with accurate and real-time information to perform various state-mandated file maintenance functions. County elections officials will benefit from VoteCal’s ability to check for duplicate registrations throughout the state, move a voter's registration record from one county to another when a voter moves to or re-registers in another county, verify voter eligibility through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the California Department of Public Health, and much more. Likewise, VoteCal will compare voter addresses and receive updated information through the California Employment Development Department and will continue to receive residence address updates through the DMV.
Voters will experience the greatest benefit from the implementation of VoteCal. When a voter moves, their residential information will likely be obtained from one of the many sources that the statewide database will access, and their registration information will be updated. If this move is between counties, the voter will no longer be required to re-register in the new county because their registration will automatically be transferred. Additionally, VoteCal will provide California voters with access to a public portal to apply to register to vote, update their voter registration record, find their assigned polling place, or check if their vote-by-mail or provisional ballot was counted by their county elections official.
For more information or questions about VoteCal, please visit the California Secretary of State’s (SOS) website at www.sos.ca.gov.