The County Voice

CA Counties Ensure Democracy is Alive and Well

The Secretary of State’s Office has certified the November 2 General Election and reports that the 59.6 percent turnout was the highest for a gubernatorial election since 1994.  Nearly 60 percent turnout isn’t bad, but then again, that is a percentage of the number of registered voters who cast ballots – not the percentage of those who are eligible to vote. If you use the latter figure, 43.74 percent of eligible Californians voted last month. 

The Secretary of State’s Office records both categories by county: 1) Percentage of California residents who are registered to vote and actually do, and 2) Percentage of residents who are eligible to vote and do. In California’s non-presidential elections, the difference historically runs about 15 percent, as outlined above. 

A look at the numbers: In California, we have 23.55 million residents eligible to vote; of those, 17.28 million are registered, and in November, 10.3 million cast ballots. Last month, this translated to nearly 7 million residents who are registered but did not vote, and about 13 million eligible Californians who aren’t even registered. 

The Secretary of State’s data includes a lot of other interesting information that you can check out here. For example, ballots cast by mail accounted for 48.4 percent of the total votes, up 6.8 percent over the 2006 general election. And in 17 counties, the voting by mail accounted for more than 60 percent. 

In a press release, Secretary of State Debra Bowen said she applauds “the work of each county elections official and the more than 100,000 elections workers and volunteers who helped to make voting as easy as possible for every eligible California.” We second that. 

Too often the media fixates on an isolated snafu or delay in voting rather than the successful completion of the herculean task of 58 county elections departments accurately tallying more than 10.3 million votes in short order. Furthermore, these results are posted within hours on county websites for anyone – even those who did not vote – to view. 

All this being accomplished in an era of county budget reductions.  Doing more with less; at CSAC, we seem to be saying that a lot as of late. But it’s good to know that democracy is alive and well for California’s 38 million residents, including the millions that choose not to participate.

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