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California closes in on voter registration record

The Associated Press
Thursday October 05, 2000

California is close to setting a record in voter registration this year, with a week to go before the deadline for signing up to cast ballots. 

The state had 15.1 million registered voters as of early September, the most recent figures available from the secretary of state’s office. 

Although California reached a new high with 15.6 million registered before the 1996 presidential election, that figure included about 1 million people who had moved out of California or died, Secretary of State Bill Jones said Wednesday. 

Those names have been taken off the roles, he said. 

That makes California’s current figures the true record, Jones said, adding that he would not be surprised if the state surpassed 15.6 million over the next week. 

Jones is holding get-out-the-vote activities around the state this week for Voter Registration week. Tuesday is the registration deadline for those who want to vote in next month’s election. At least 20 county election offices plan to stay open until midnight that day to accept last-minute registrations. 

Hundreds of supermarkets have put up voter registration forms near checkouts at the request of state election officials. 

At Raley’s Supermarket in West Sacramento, Josephine Certo picked up some groceries and a form for her husband. 

“It’s a good thing they have these here,” Certo said. “I registered when we moved a few weeks ago but he never did. He’s never registered before.” 

Registration data shows 494,457 new people registered to vote between Feb. 7 and Sept. 8. Most of those gains were in the Democrats’ favor, with an additional 203,000 Democrats turning in forms, compared to 146,000 Republicans. A significant number – 119,087 – declined to state party affiliation. 

Analysts credit the increase in registration to everything from the presidential race to simply an increase in the number of Californians. Republicans and Democrats expect thousands of volunteers to register voters this weekend, the last before the registration deadline. 

“Since March 1999 we have been actively registering people for this election,” state GOP spokesman Stuart DeVeaux said. 

“It’s been our No. 1 focus and goal. We believe that Democrats actually turn out to vote less than Republicans so the real key to the election will be turnout,” he said. Democratic Party spokesman Bob Mulholland credited new laws with making registration more accessible to residents. This is the first presidential election where residents were able to register at Department of Motor Vehicle sites.