Thursday, 30 May 2024

Voter registration grows statewide and locally

LAKE COUNTY – As the nation prepares to head to the polls on Tuesday, state and local officials are reporting record voter registration levels.


California Secretary of State Debra Bowen reported Friday that 17.3 million Californians have registered to vote, nearly a million more voters than were registered in October 2004 and nearly two million more than this same time in 2000.


Those 17.3 million account for 74.56 percent of the 23.2 million eligible voters in California, according to Bowen's office. That's up from the 69 percent statewide registration Bowen reported in September.


While this October's percentage is down slightly from the 75 percent registration recorded in October 2004, and the 80.21 percent registration in October 1996, California still has more registered voters now than ever before, with the state's population continuing to grow.


Here in Lake County, the numbers of registered voters also have grown, especially in the last month.


The September registration report showed that 71.86 percent of Lake County's 46,714 eligible voters were registered to vote, according to Bowen's office.


Her Oct. 20 report put Lake County's registration up to 75.18 percent – above the state average – with 35,154 voters prepared to go to the polls.


Since the start of January, Lake County's voter rolls have grown by approximately 2,800 voters, up just 1,474 in the last month alone, since Lake County News last reported on voter registration numbers.


In her more than two decades on the job, Lake County Registrar of Voters Diane Fridley said this year's registration is the highest amount she's seen for any election, including presidential elections, which she said typically draw larger voter interest.


In preparing for the big day on Tuesday, Fridley said, “I expect a big turnout.”


The number of voters registered to vote by mail – or absentee ballot – also has grown.


Last month, the percentage of absentee ballots was at 44.3 percent. Fridley said for the election her office has issued 17,947 absentee ballots, which accounts for 51 percent of the county's registered voters. That's up by nearly 3,000 voters from the 14,953 Fridley reported as being registered to vote by mail permanently last month.


So far, she added, 9,711 absentee ballots already have been returned to her office.


Because of the number of absentee ballots they'll be counting this year, Fridley said her office will begin tallying those votes between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, although they can't release the results until after 8 p.m.


She said county Chief Administrative Officer Kelly Cox and County Counsel Anita Grant have volunteered to be on hand to help her with the counting Tuesday.


Analyzing the numbers


On a statewide level, Democrats lead registration with 44.4 percent, compared to 31.4 percent for Republicans, according to Bowen's report. Third parties account for 4.3 percent of voter registrations, and “decline to state” has risen to its highest level ever, 19.9 percent.


The numbers in the latest report put Democrats up slightly from their 43 percent registration of four years ago, while Republicans have declined from 34.7 percent.


Both Democrats and Republicans have shown overall declines in registration since October 1992. That year, Democrats reported 49.1 percent registration and Republicans 37 percent, compared to 3.6 percent for third parties and 10.3 percent for decline to state voters.


Locally, Bowen's report showed that the number of eligible voters in Lake County grew from 46,454 in January to 46,758 in October.


In Lake County, the October report has Democrats at 43.5 percent of registered voters, or 15,292, up from 13,094, or 42.97 percent, in January.


Republicans had 10,545, or 30 percent, of registered voters, in October, an increase from 10,075 registered voters but down from the January percentage of 31.14 percent.


The third-highest designation was “decline to state” voters, who came in with 7,335 voters or 20.87 percent in October, compared to 6,488 or 20.05 percent at the year's start.


American Independents come in at 3.37 percent, with 1,183 registered voters, up slightly from 3.25 percent and 1,053 voters in January. The Green Party reported 380 registered members, or 1.08 percent, down from the 414 voters, or 1.28 percent, at the start of the year.


Other parties showed the following changes: Libertarians, 214 (0.61 percent) in October, 212 (0.66 percent) in January; Peace and Freedom, 131 (0.37 percent) in October, 129 (0.40 percent) in January; and “other,” 79 (0.24 percent) in October, 74 (0.21 percent) in January.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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