News

Online voter registration proves popular as state nears record

More than a million Californians used the state’s new online voter registration system to sign up for the Nov. 6 election, putting the state nearer to a registration record set in 2009 of 17.33 million.

Final figures on registration will be reported on Nov. 2, four days before the election.

The online registration figures are raw and subject to revision as registrants are checked for accuracy and legality.

“No voter registration is automatic. Because postmarks count, paper applications are still rolling in. The raw number of online applications submitted since Sept. 19 – including ineligible, duplicate and already-registered voters – is 1,023,775,” Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in a statement released by her office.

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 deadline was midnight Monday, with applications verified either by postmarks and online time-stamps.

As of Sept. 7, the state’s certified report showed 17,259,680 people registered to vote. In February 2009, voter registration stood at 17,334,275. Democratic registration is about 43.3 percent, Republicans 30.1 percent, minor parties about 5.3 percent, and those who decline to state any party affiliation are 20.1 percent.

Overall, about 23.8 million Californians are eligible to vote.

An early round of online registrants showed Democrats over Republicans about 2.5-to-1, while nearly a third of the new registrants did not report an affiliation with either major party.

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.

The legislation authorizing the new online process was authored by Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco-area Democrat.

“I am absolutely thrilled that so many Californians, especially young people, used this new system to register to vote,” Yee said in a statement released by his office. “While some states are suppressing the rights of voters, here in California we are significantly increasing participation. By so significantly increasing the number of citizens registered to vote, we strengthened our democracy.”

“Because these citizens took the affirmative step to register versus simply filling out a form from a paid registration gather, I am hopeful that these new voters will have a significant turnout in November,” said Yee. “This election affects everyone and it will have a major impact on our schools, public safety, environment, economy, and jobs.”

Yee’s office, citing numbers from Political Data Inc., said that “in the 31 counties that have reported, 28 percent of those registering online are under the age of 26, compared to only 12 percent of the current overall registrations in those counties. A small uptick appears to also be coming from overseas and out-of-state Californians (typically students and members of the military), accounting for 2 percent of the online registrations in reporting counties versus only 1 percent of the overall registered voters in those counties.”

The online registration system allows those 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 by visiting RegisterToVote.ca.gov.

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