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Online Voter Registration May Be Responsible For California Democrat Supermajority

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CALIFORNIA ONLINE VOTER REGISTRATION
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California Democrats did something the party hasn't managed to accomplish since 1883 this last November--gaining a supermajority in both houses of the state's legislature, crippling its Republican rival.

According to new data, the Democrats' nearly unprecedented election success has been attributed to the over 800,000 new voters--an outsize proportion of them Democrats--due to the state's new online registration program.

The data, released by the California Secretary of State's office, reveals that voters who registered online broke for Democrats over Republicans by over a two-to-one margin.

A study released earlier this month by Political Data Inc. found that not only was the rate at which new online registrants voted in the last election significantly higher than the proportion of all registered voters who actually cast ballots, it was also notably higher than the number of people who used old-fashioned paper registration cards.

This jump in turnout was particularly pronounced among swaths of the population typically prone to relatively low levels of turnout such as young people, Latinos and those living in rural areas.

A separate study, this one published last month by researchers at UC Berkeley's Center For Latino Policy Research, found that online registration made the most difference in the voting habits of of lower-income Californians.

"Given voters in California are, on average, significantly more affluent than the general population, this study suggests that online voter registration opened up the...process to a wider range of voters in terms of their socioeconomic status," Lisa García Bedolla, author of the UC Berkeley study said in a statement. "When we make the process easier, like letting you register after you Google it on your phone, folks participate."

California's online registration system, which was created as the result of a bill introduced by State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), allows citizens to register online. It received a huge push in the run-up to the November election with nearly half of all new registrants using the system in the weeks leading up to the day of the contest.

"When we passed online voter registration, the Republicans start running and we start grabbing online registrations and that's how we won," Yee told the Sacramento Bee at the Democrats' party conference last weekend in Sacramento.

Due to the much-vaunted success of the Yee's online registration bill, state politics blog California Forward noted that there are nearly two dozen other bills pending in the state legislature looking to expanding or improve the program.

Some of those pieces of legislation include moves to put links to the online voter registration page on every website operated by the state of California and create a pilot program allowing people to actually vote online.

California citizens can register to vote here.

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Filed by Aaron Sankin