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California's Online Voter Registration

by Michael Higham, published

A study conducted by the Center for Latino Policy Research (CLPR) at UC Berkeley found that California's online voter registration broadened the base of low to middle-income voters. The study concluded:

"Advocates for online registration argued that it would make the registration process more open and accessible to a broader range of voters. Our analysis suggests this reform was successful in that regard."

Researchers Lisa García Bedolla and Verónica N. Vélez analyzed San Diego County and Alameda County. Both counties had the largest number of online registrants in California and represent demographic diversity.

In San Diego County, 71 percent of Latinos, 57 percent of whites, and 50 percent of Asian-Americans who used online registration lived in areas with a median income below $75,000 a year.

The numbers are similar in Alameda County; 65 percent of Latinos, 52 percent of whites, and 44 percent of Asian-Americans who used online registration came from areas with median incomes under $75,000 a year.

Leading up to the implementation of online voter registration, there were concerns about it disenfranchising lower-income voters. However, a much smaller proportion of online registrants lived in areas with higher income brackets:

"This strongly suggests that online registration is not simply being used by affluent, already likely voters, but rather that it was less affluent eligible voters who most took advantage of opportunity to register online."

The CLPR mapped its data for both counties:

Credit: Center for Latino Policy Research

Online Voter Registration Map SD and AL

A total of 839,297 Californians took advantage of online voter registration in 2012. The state's system was implemented on September 19, 2012, giving Californians a five-week window to register online.

Initial statistics showed that 61.5 percent of those using online voter registration were under the age of 35. As more people become of voting age, online registration likely to further increase youth turnout.

Sixteen states currently have online voter registration systems. Arizona was the first state to implement the process, which began in 2002.

There are 18.2 million Californians registered to vote, an increase of around 900,000 voters from 2008. Based on the CLPR study, California's implementation of online voter registration has already shown an impact in encouraging turnout among voting blocs with a history of low-propensity.

Californian's can register to vote online HERE

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