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Online voter registration pushes rolls toward record high

October 24, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
California could have a huge turnout this election day. State officials are seeing large numbers of new voters registering for the first time. This year the election could set a registration record.

While records are still being verified, California could see hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million, new voters this election.

"From preliminary numbers, about 680,000 people have been added to the rolls," said Shannan Velayas, a Calif. Secretary of State Office spokesperson. "So we are on track of breaking the all-time high of voter registration record in the state."

The California Secretary of State's Office credits the new online voter registration site for helping with the boost. More than half of the new registrations came through its website, which was launched only a month ago. The new method appeals to a generation accustomed to using technology in their everyday life.

"I had multiple friends on Facebook talking about, 'If you haven't registered to vote, here's the link,'" said Sydnie Whitesel, a new voter.

Campaigns involved in tight races see this new voter group as an opportunity to swing the outcome one way or the other.

Take Governor Brown's Proposition 30, for instance, which temporarily raises some taxes to fund public education and avoid more cuts. It's barely ahead in public opinion polls, which motivated a number of students to register to vote so they can participate.

"There's a lot of different things that have to do with us this year, with Proposition 30 and all that," said new voter Liz Griffin. "So it's just nice having a say."

"School funding. It's getting harder and harder for us students to pay for our tuition and our classes right now," said new voter Demetrius Sneed.

New voters are attractive targets in the last push to election day.

"If it's polling at 50/50, you bring out an additional 500,000 voters, could absolutely make the difference in the election," said Corey Timpson, a spokesman for Reclaim California's Future.

The question is how many of the newly registered will actually vote.

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