Offering hope for reversing California’s slim election participation, hundreds of thousands of young Californians have registered to vote online in recent months.
Policymakers like California Secretary of State Alex Padilla are working to boost historically low voter turnout numbers. Even outside of the Golden State, young voters tend to be among the least likely to show up on Election Day.
Numbers Padilla’s office released on Wednesday offer a counterpoint. Of the 562,238 Californians who registered online from January to the end of March, 204,785 – over a third – were in the 17-to-25 age bracket. That becomes more remarkable given that 18-to-24-year olds comprise around eight percent of the registered electorate.
More generally, the statistics buoyed Padilla’s efforts to push more people to the polls. While the registrants were not all new voters – some were updating their existing registration – the total for the first quarter of 2016 already eclipses the 425,220 total online registrations in 2014.
“This surge in online voter registration suggests that elections officials throughout our state should be preparing for a surge in turnout during the June 7 Presidential Primary Election,” Padilla said in a press release.
An incendiary presidential election is likely driving young people to sign up, California Voter Foundation President Kim Alexander said, particularly given the rise of outsider candidates like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump and the prospect of a rare relevant presidential primary in California.
“This election is on fire,” Alexander said. “We have this very hotly contested presidential election. We have national candidates that are really capturing a lot of peoples’ attention, especially young people.”