Record Number of California Voters Registered Ahead of November Election

The line outside the voting center at All Saints Episcopal church in Los Angeles County swelled to about 40 people on March 3, 2020, as poll workers saw an influx of afternoon voters for California’s primary. (Courthouse News photo/Martin Macias Jr.)

(CN) — Ahead of what’s described as one of the most consequential presidential elections in our nation’s history, California officials announced Thursday a record 84% of eligible voters in the state are registered to submit their ballots.

The Golden State’s voter registration report shows 21,240,236 people were registered to vote as of Sep. 4.

The latest figure represents 84.68% of California’s 25 million eligible voters, the highest percentage of registered voters ahead of a general election in 68 years, according to Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who in a statement urged voters to submit their ballots early.

“This month California reached a historic registration milestone with over 21.2 million registered voters, an increase of nearly 3 million voters compared to a similar point in the last presidential election,” Padilla said. “Despite this huge increase, there’s still more work to be done. For those who have registered, the next step is making a plan to vote.”

The tally follows a Super Tuesday primary election in which a record 9.6 million Californians voted and also represents a 1% increase in registered voters noted in Padilla’s August report.

Due to the pandemic, California officials have opted to temporarily revamp the election process, namely by extending the timeline to vote and expanding mail-in voting.

New California laws also require counties to offer voters a ballot-tracking system and mandate at least one physical voting center per 10,000 registered voters.

Early voting in California begins Oct. 5, the same day election officials will mail out ballots to every active registered voter in the state. 

In May, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered officials to send mail-in ballots to every registered voter in order to quell fears about contracting Covid-19 at polling sites. The move was sharply criticized by President Donald Trump and unsuccessfully challenged in court by California Republicans.

California residents have until Oct. 19 to register for the Nov. 3 election and can do so at RegisterToVote.ca.gov. Voters can also check their registration status at VoterStatus.sos.ca.gov.

If the deadline is missed, residents can also register to vote on the day of the election  only at in-person polling sites and county election offices and cast their vote that day, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

California Democrats, meanwhile, maintain their grasp on the majority of the state electorate.

According to Thursday’s update, 46.4%, or more than 9.8 million, have registered as Democrats compared to 24%, or 5.1 million, registered as Republican. The figure represents an increase of more than 1.6 million Democratic voters since 2016.

The California GOP has gained more than 243,000 voters since 2016.

A bit over 26% of voters have registered as no-party-preference (5 million people) or third-party (616,000 residents), according to the report.

The Democratic Party’s main strongholds are in counties like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa where it holds over 50% of registered voters. Republicans make up over half the voters in just rural Modoc and Lassen counties.

In Northern California’s Shasta County, 49.7% of 133,700 eligible voters registered as Republican.

In other action Thursday, Padilla’s office conditionally certified the latest iteration of LA County’s tech-driven, $300 million voting system.

For residents opting to vote at a physical polling site this November, the Voting Solutions For All People computer tablet allows voters to check-in at polling locations and submit their ballots electronically.

In the statement, Padilla described VSAP as the first and only publicly owned and designed voting system certified for use U.S. elections. His office reviewed accessibility features, computing source code, and tested the system’s security before approving it.

“”VSAP allows LA County to provide citizens more choices for how, when, and where they can vote,” Padilla said. “VSAP is critical for modern services, including early voting, same day voter registration, and allowing voters to use any vote center in the county.”

An earlier version of VSAP used in the primary election came under fire after it was unable to sync with the county’s voter database and an independent audit found poll workers were improperly trained for the technology.

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