Voter registration percentage highest since 1994

Nearly three out of four Californians who are eligible to cast ballots for the Nov. 2 election have registered to vote, the state’s election officer reported today.

Some 17.3 million people registered, or about 73.4 percent of the 23.6 million eligible. That is the highest voter-registration percentage since 1994, when 77.7 percent registered. The latest numbers, known as the 15-day report of registration, track registrants through Oct. 18.

About 44.1 percent of those registered were Democrats and 31 percent were Republicans, the secretary of state reported. The Republican tally was significantly lower than the GOP registration in the last four elections. During the past 16 years, the highest Republican registration was in 1994, with 37.2 percent. The Democratic registration is higher than the 42.5 percent in 2006, the last non-presidential election year, but lower than in the three earlier elections.

Although Democrats traditionally have higher registration numbers than Republicans, the final results on election day are invariably closer, in part because Republicans vote in proportionally higher numbers than Democrats.

Of the minor parties – American Independent, Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom – the American Independent Party had the highest registration, with 413,000 members, or 2.39 percent.

The relatively high registration for both major parties in 1994 reflected the volatile partisan atmosphere of state and national politics. Nationally, Republicans took over the House for the first time since President Eisenhower’s first term. In California, Republican gains triggered a lengthy and bitter battle for the Assembly speakership. This year, national political observers are predicting a Republican seizure of the House and, possibly, the U.S. Senate.

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