California sees high voter registration ahead of recall, but likely voters are disproportionately white, study says

KSEE24 News

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – The final report of registration from the California Secretary of State’s Office found that nearly 89 percent of all eligible Californians are registered to vote ahead of the recall election. It’s an increase of nearly 10 percent from in 2018 when Gov. Gavin Newsom was elected, and about 18 percent higher than the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.

California Secretary of State Dr. Shirly Weber is optimistic about what a high voter registration rate could mean for overall turnout in the Sept. 14 gubernatorial recall election.

“The more recent system that we have in place that gives everybody a ballot, that makes voting centers more accessible, those kinds of things really encourage people to vote,” Weber said.

But a closer look at voter demographics shows some groups disproportionately vote more than others. The 2020 Census found Latinos are the largest ethnic group in California, but a recent study from the Public Policy Institute of California found Latinos only make up 22 percent of likely voters, and white Californians make up 54 percent of likely voters. The study surveyed about 10,000 likely voters from Sept. 2020 to July 2021. Dr. Weber feels this lower rate among Latinos could be linked to some of that population’s immigration status.   

“I think the trends are getting a little bit better but not enough,” Weber said. “There’s still a tremendous concern that their data would be used in other ways, in terms of harassing their families or whatever it may be. So, we’re trying to assure them that that’s not what the information is for.”

Weber says outreach and education have become a top priority for her 

“Our outreach efforts in this election particularly, we have a large contingency of Latinos who are working in the field to not only encourage people to register to vote but to get them to vote in this election.”

Dean Bonner of the Public Policy Institute of California was one of the surveyors who conducted the study which found California voters are disproportionately white. He says despite the current trend, it’s much better than the last time California had a gubernatorial recall election in 2003.

“We actually have been seeing an increase when it was down closer to like 15 or 14 percent in the early to mid-2000s,” Bonner said.

The secretary of state’s office also reported Madera and Merced counties had one of the highest percent increase in voter registration statewide since the 2018 gubernatorial election.

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