SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) – Faced with picking a new governor, a U.S. senator and deciding a host of hotly contested congressional races and propositions, a record number of Californians are registered to vote ahead of the November midterms.
In his latest voter report, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla says a record 19 million Californians have registered to vote, an increase of nearly 1.5 million from the 2014 midterm election. As of Sept. 7, nearly 76 percent of all eligible voters have signed up to vote – including 3.6 million more Democrats than Republicans.
Nearly 44 percent are registered Democratic, 26.8 percent no party preference and 24.5 percent Republican.
Democrats continue to hold massive margins in many urban areas and represent over half of the registered voters in counties like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Mateo and Alameda. Meanwhile Republican registration is above 45 percent only in the sparsely populated northern counties of Lassen, Modoc and Shasta.
Los Angeles County has registered 5.1 million people, or 82 percent of its eligible voters, while San Diego signed up 1.6 million and 74 percent of eligible voters.
Since the 2014 elections, California has enacted several new laws and programs to boost voter registration and turnout.
A new voting system being piloted in five counties sends each registered voter a mail-in ballot and allows them to mail or drop off their completed ballots up to Election Day. Each of the five counties exceeded the statewide turnout rate during the June primary and by 2020 all counties will be able to adopt the mail-in model.
Another program allows 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register and become eligible to vote as soon as they turn 18. More than 200,000 teenagers have pre-registered to vote under the program since 2016, including more than 104,000 are now 18 and eligible to vote next month.
“Across the state, young people aren’t just pre-registering, they are also signing up to be poll workers, hosting mock elections on their school campuses, and volunteering on campaigns,” Padilla said in a statement. “These young people represent the next generation of active, informed and engaged voters.”
For the June primary, turnout topped 37.5 percent – the highest in a California gubernatorial primary since 1998 – with a total of 7.1 million ballots cast.