Commentary

10/24/2012 by Ed Coghlan

California voter registration en route to a record

Californians who think more participation in the electoral process is a good thing are smiling today. By the time all the voter registration data is tabulated, the state will have more people registered to vote in November than any state in history. And the new online voter registration system has obviously helped drive those record numbers.

Over 1 million Californians filed voter applications online this fall and over 380,000 of them have already been qualified. All told nearly 700,000 Californians registered to vote in the 45 days leading up to the October 22nd deadline. If you haven’t registered to vote yet, you still can but you are ineligible to vote in the November election.

And it looks like this registration boomlet means that the state’s voter, like the state itself, is changing.

The online registration efforts, predictably, is helping California’s voting population get younger. Of the 31 counties that have reported results, over one in four (28%) who registered to vote were under 26 years old, according to Political Data Inc., California’s largest provider of voter information. This compares to only 12% of the current voter registration being under 26 years old in those counties.

"California's voter registration numbers are impressive, particularly the influx of young voters who registered online. The changing face of the California voter, which is getting younger, more Latino and  more Asian, promises a changing dynamic in the Golden State that will continue to change politics and government in the state," said Mike Madrid, well known California political consultant and partner in Grassroots Lab of Sacramento.

The new online voter registration system allows citizens whose signatures are already on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles to submit their voter registration form to their county elections office electronically via the internet or a mobile device.

"California Forward helped promote the state's new ability to register to vote online and we're pleased that it has been so successful, particularly in registering first time voters," said Caroline Vance Bruister, Program Director at California Forward. "The large number of people under 26 who registered online is particularly gratifying. Now we hope that they will exercise this right and vote on November 6."

The final number of registered voters in California won’t be announced for another week or so, but officials are very confident that it will eclipse the all-time record of 17.3 million registered voters which was set in 2009.

Categories: Democracy, Elections, Californians

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