Record number of voters registered in CA

October 31, 2008 5:46:39 PM PDT
New numbers from the Secretary of State show a record number of Californians registered to vote - 17.3 million people are now eligible to cast their ballot Tuesday in this state; that's up nearly 2 million from January.

The surge could delay election results, if turnout is high.

"It's a good thing if we have so many voters that it takes us a little longer," California Secretary of State Debra Bowen said. "I know we're all impatient, but I would love to see 100 percent turnout and have us counting until 3 to 4 in the morning."

The biggest beneficiary of the frenzied voter registration this year has been the Democratic Party, with more than half a million more members. Their gain has been at the expense of Republicans, who now make up only 31 percent of registered voters.

A record number of new voters declined to choose any party.

"Barack Obama is a candidate they can believe in, and the economic crisis and the wars that never end are driving people to say, 'I am going to the polls and voting Democrat,'" California Democratic Party member Bob Mulholland said.

Also interesting about the new registration statistics is the number of counties that went from red to blue this year, flipping from majority Republican to Democrat.

San Bernardino, Ventura and Stanislaus counties now give the edge to Democrats. Del Norte and San Diego were strong Republican counties, but they are now just slightly ahead of Democrats in registration.

The GOP says registration numbers have not really mattered in California; that voters still chose Republicans. They cite 2006, when Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger won re-election. Schwarzenegger received 56 percent of the vote, even though only 35 percent of voters were registered Republicans.

"When elections are about issues and leadership, Republicans outperform what their numbers suggest," California Republican Party member Kevin Roberts said.


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