Fewer voters signing up with major political parties

Fickle Californians are voting with their feet, walking away from the political parties and increasingly declining to state any party preference at all.


The secretary of state reported Monday that Democrats and Republicans both lost registrants, with Republicans dipping to 28.9 percent, while Democratic registration stood at 43.9 percent, fully 15 points above the GOP’s level.


Some 23.86 million people were eligible to vote in California, with nearly 18.1 million, or 75.68 percent, actually registered.


More than a fifth of all registered voters, or 20.9 percent, declined to state a preference with any political party, reflecting a steady increase in the number of decline-to-state voters in recent years, or about 259,000 more during the past two years. In 2005, decline-to-state registration totaled 17.9 percent.


The latest report updates voter-registration figures in California’s 58 counties, “including the removal of registrants who have passed away, moved out of state, or have been determined to be ineligible to vote, as well as the addition of new registrants,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said. The complete report is at


“Voter registration often dips in an off-year when counties update voter rolls following a general election, but the good news is registration is still up by about 3% from this time two years ago,” she added.


Of California’s counties, the partisan split was narrow, with 30 counties reporting a GOP majority and 28 reporting  a Democratic majority. The Republican edge in the number of counties favoring the GOP has dwindled significantly in recent years. In 2005, the split was 37 Republican to 21 Democratic.


By law, statewide voter registration updates must occur 60 and 15 days before each general election, and 154, 60 and 15 days before each primary election. One update is published in each odd-numbered year with no regularly scheduled statewide election.


In November, more than a million Californians used the state’s new online voter registration system to sign up for the Nov. 6 election. In the six weeks leading to the final Oct. 22 deadline, some 679,000 newly registered voters were added to the rolls. County election officials expect that number to rise as last-minute registrants are vetted and added to the rolls.


The online registrants also trended toward younger voters. Of the 50,899 early online registrations, some 14,400 were under the age of 26, nearly seven times as many who were over the age of 65. Of younger voters, about six out of 10 – more than 8,600 — were living at home with at least one parent. Those figures were compiled by Political Data Inc., a nonpartisan voter information company based in Southern California.


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