California Achieves New Voter Registration Record

This election, California set an unprecedented record of registered voters at 18,245,970, or 76.7% of Californians. While the percentage of eligible Californians who are registered has remained relatively steady for more than a decade, the raw number of registrants has increased by 941,879 since the same time before the 2008 election.

This could not have been possible without Online Voter Registration, which was created by legislation sponsored by California Common Cause. “This is a proud moment for California. Access to voter registration has gone through the roof now that we have Online Voter Registration,” said Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause.

Perhaps it comes as no surprise that young voters were in the majority of those who registered online. According to county data tallied by Political Data Inc (PDI), the state’s largest bipartisan election data firm, 61.5 percent of those who used the online registration system were under age 35 (30.8 percent age 18-24, 30.7 percent age 25-34) and 79 percent registered to vote for the first time.

In addition to Online Voter Registration, the success of voter registration also rested on dedicated volunteers that worked with people face to face. Anjuli Kronheim, the Los Angeles organizer for California Common Cause explains, “This election’s registration record could not have been possible without efforts of grassroots volunteers from across the state that knocked on doors, attended community events, and canvassed universities and colleges with smartphones and tablets to connect new voters to this new online system.”

But, of course, registering voters is merely the first step.

In her news release, California’s chief elections officer Secretary of State Debra Bowen underscored the work left to be done in this election:

“Seeing a record number of Californians registered to vote is wonderful, but there are still too many eligible people skipping the electoral process altogether…Now it’s time for the next two important steps: getting informed and voting by Election Day.”

The highest voter turnout for a presidential election in California was 88.4 percent in 1964.

There remains much to be done to beat that record.

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About Phillip Ung

Phillip Ung is California Common Cause’s policy advocate. Follow him on Twitter @PhilRUng.

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