Johnny Sinodis testifies before the California Assembly Elections Committee on the immigration consequences of Senate Bill 299

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On June 26, 2024, firm partner Johnny Sinodis testified before the California Assembly Elections Committee regarding the immigration consequences of Senate Bill 299, which seeks to implement a back-end Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) system in California. Since 2018, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has followed a front-end AVR system, which prompts eligible individuals to register to vote when applying for a driver’s license or state identification when renewing such documents, or when updating their address on such documents. Under this system, an eligible individual may choose to indicate that they are a U.S. citizen and thus eligible to vote, but nonetheless opt out of registration during the DMV transaction (i.e., at the “front-end” of the transaction). By contrast, the proposed back-end system would require the DMV to register to vote all individuals whom it believes are eligible, and would prevent those individuals from opting out until after they receive a registration confirmation notice in the mail. Were the “back-end” system to be implemented, individuals would be registered to vote without their knowledge or affirmative consent—which can lead to major immigration consequences for noncitizens.

“Given the state of immigration law, the risks of shifting to a back-end, opt-out system far outweigh any perceived potential benefits. Errors in a back-end system could register noncitizens to vote even where they make clear to DMV employees that they are not U.S. citizens. Noncitizens who are automatically registered to vote could then believe that they are authorized to vote because they will receive voting materials in the mail. This exposes them to severe, life-altering consequences, including imprisonment and deportation,” testified Johnny Sinodis.

See here for a recording of the testimony.