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Voter Participation Increasing Since 2002

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News / File

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio News / File

The percentage of Californians voting in non-presidential elections has slipped compared to 40 years ago, but has been increasing over the past few election cycles.

Back in the 1960's and 70's it was typical for about 70-to-80 percent of Californians to vote in non-presidential elections.  But, that changed in 1986. Forty-percent of voters stayed away from the polls that year and many of them never returned.

The bottom for turnout for a non-presidential election was 2002, where barely half of the registered voters cast a ballot. Some people have never voted.

Lindsay Culp of Sacramento has skipped all ten elections and primaries for which she's been eligible to vote. She says an uneducated vote is worse than no vote.

"I don't necessarily agree with all the candidates from what I do know. It's kind of voting for the best of the evils in my opinion. I just don't have enough information to figure out which is the best of both evils or any of the evils.

Maybe, if Lindsay had more friends like Eric Stikes, she would have voted. He says he helps his friends out all the time.

"Get to the heart of the matter and see if I can help them out. You know, if the issue is they don't know where they're registered, I try to help them get registered.  It usually doesn't take much to get people to a polling station. So, I do what I can."

Efforts like Eric's seem to have helped.

The California Secretary of State's office says 500,000 new voters registered in California this year.  Compared to 2010, there was an increase of about 1.4 million people who requested vote-by-mail ballots.

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