A record 18 million people are registered to vote in California for the upcoming election. Almost half of the 1.4 million new voters registered online under a new law that kicked in six weeks ago to allow electronic registration in the nation's most populated state.
Newly registered voters tend to be younger and more left-leaning, voter data shows. The number of registered Democrats has jumped to 48 percent from 43 percent since online voter registration started Sept. 7. Republicans have seen their share drop to 19 percent from 33 percent over the same period. The share of third-party voters or those who decline to state a party preference increased five points to 33 percent.
"This gives Democrats, who already dominate state politics, a big boost; they outnumber Republicans among the new voters by more than 2 to 1," writes the Los Angeles Times.
Indeed California hasn't voted for a Republican presidential candidate since George Bush, Sr. ran in 1988. Even so, money continues to flow into congressional races that are up for grabs.
Republicans in the state had opposed online voter registration, saying they feared the potential for voter fraud.
According to the Los Angeles Times, "[o]nline registration is the California Legislature's answer to "voter identification" laws being promoted elsewhere with requirements that residents produce driver's licenses or other identification before being allowed to vote. Civil-rights activists say such rules are intended to intimidate citizens and drive down election participation by the poor.
"While other states created illegitimate ways to suppress the vote, we found ways to increase the voter rolls," said State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), who wrote the online voter registration law. He called the program "a tremendous boost to young people and first-time voters."
California is among 15 states that offer electronic voter registration to residents. The state joins five others in debuting online voter registration in time for next week's election.
How new voters lean could benefit Gov. Jerry Brown's high-stakes push for a voter-approved tax measure. If Proposition 30 fails, Brown promised, deeper cuts would be made to public education.
The process to register online was quick and simple, reported online registrants. The site uses a driver's license or California ID number to fetch data from a DMV database to complete registration. In case anyone is wondering, the deadline to register to vote online for the Nov. 6 election has passed.