Weeks before a contentious presidential election, California’s voter rolls are swelling, with a substantial increase in new registrations not seen in recent elections.
The state has added just under 3 million new voters since this time in 2016 and the voter registration rate is at its highest level since 1952, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
More than 84% of eligible voters are registered — that’s 21.2 million Californians.
“Despite this huge increase, there's still more work to be done,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a news release. “For those who have registered, the next step is making a plan to vote.”
The spike in registrations can be attributed in part to California’s “motor voter law,” which was revamped in 2019 and automatically registers people to vote when they visit the DMV for a driver’s license. The program was rife with issues and discrepancies when it launched a year earlier.
Tulare and San Bernardino counties have added the largest share of new voters since 2016, logging increases of 33% and 30%, respectively.
But Marin County has the highest overall registration rate, with a staggering 95% of eligible voters registered to cast a ballot. In Los Angeles County, 92% of eligible voters are registered and Alpine, Napa, Nevada, Placer, San Benito and Santa Cruz counties all have voter registration rates slightly above 90%.
Around 82% of eligible Sacramento County voters are registered, with only 77% in Yolo County and 74% in San Joaquin.
After taking a big hit between the 2012 and 2016 elections, membership in the California Republican Party is up slightly, to 5.1 million.
But membership in the party has largely remained stagnant since 2000, when 5.2 million Californians were registered Republicans. Back then, Republicans made up 35% of the total share of California voters. Today, it’s 24%.
Meanwhile, Democrats have added 3 million new voters since 2000, and No Party Preference affiliations have more than doubled, from 2.1 million to 5 million. They make up 46% and 23% of registered voters, respectively, while voters registered to other parties account for 5%.
The deadline to register to vote online or by mail is Oct. 19, but eligible voters can register and cast a provisional ballot at a polling place or vote center on Election Day or during early voting.
Find more information on how to register, vote by mail or in-person, and preview your ballot in our California 2020 Election Voter Guide.
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