California sets new record for voter registration


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A record number of Californians have registered to vote for the Nov. 6 election, with a new online registration system and growing interest in the tight presidential race helping to create a surge of applications in recent weeks.

As of Wednesday, counties have reported a record 18.14 million people are registered to vote, eclipsing the previous record of 17.33 million registrants, set in February 2009.


The numbers will go up as some counties this week finish counting new registrants, according to Paul Mitchell, vice president of Political Data Inc., which is analyzing the numbers. He predicted the final number will be about 18.4 million registered voters.

Mitchell said a key factor in the surge is the state’s decision to allow online voter registration for the Nov. 6 election, which drew more than 1 million applications in the last few months.

State officials including Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who authored the law allowing online registration, hailed the new record. “I am thrilled to see so many Californians participating in our democracy,’ Yee said in a statement. ‘While other states created illegitimate ways to suppress the vote, we found ways to increase the voter rolls.’

Mitchell’s firm found that 48% of new voters registered as Democrats, 20% as Republicans and the remaining 32% as ‘decline to state’ or other parties. Yee noted the 28-point Democratic advantage is more than double the current partisan spread. The surge in new registration could change the dynamic of some legislative and congressional contests, Mitchell said.


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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento