"What that means is our elections system isn't accurately capturing the opinions and the minds of our voters, and so we're not making the best decisions that we could be if we had full participation," said Derek Cressman of the California Common Cause, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocacy organization.
Saying that voting is the sacred right of every citizen that should be made simple and convenient, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill allowing Californians to register to vote up to and including Election Day with real-time verification through a yet-to-be-built computerized database. The current deadline is 15 days before an election.
If voters can't be verified on the spot, they'd be allowed to cast a provisional ballot to be counted only if their information checks out.
Common Cause, which sponsored the measure, says it could boost voter rolls by an estimated 8 percent.
"There are thousands of people who either missed the voter registration or show up on Election Day, only to find that there's something wrong with their voter registration," Cressman said.
Just last week, California launched a new system allowing voters to register online.
In his signing message of same-day registration, Gov. Brown mocked other states that he says are trying to burden voters with new laws. Pennsylvania, for instance, is requiring photo ID in order to vote.
Republicans opposed the same-day voter registration bill, concerned about security.
"I'm mostly concerned about voter fraud," said Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine). "I think this opens up the possibility that folks will come in and game the system. People applying same day, voting multiple times."
Common Cause says there's no evidence of widespread fraud in the 10 other states that have a similar same-day registration policy.
The system to enable same-day registration won't be in place until 2014 or 2015. So for this November election, the Oct. 22 deadline to register to vote still applies.