110,000 register to vote online in first week

About 110,000 Californians registered to vote online during the first week they could.

The state’s online voter registration system went live last Wednesday as a result of SB 397 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, which was signed into law last October by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen said today she’s “thrilled to see the high volume,” but it’s part of the usual presidential-year deluge. “At this time four years ago, we received as many as 191,000 paper registration applications in a single week just at the Secretary of State’s office – that’s not counting the 58 county offices,” she said.

Still, Yee said in a news release today that he’s “ecstatic with the popularity of this new voter registration system.”

“It is a game-changer for our democracy,” he said. “While some states are suppressing the rights of voters, here in California we are significantly increasing participation.”

A slew of Republican-dominated states have enacted voter ID laws in recent years. Supporters say they’re meant to reduce the chance of in-person voting fraud, although there are extremely few documented cases of such fraud; critics say they’re meant to disenfranchise poor, disabled, minority and other voters who are likely to vote Democratic.

Yee said California’s new law already is saving county election offices thousands of dollars: “Election clerks do not have to spend as much time and money entering data from paper registrations, which also results in fewer administrative errors.”

The new system lets citizens whose signature is already on file with the Department of Motor Vehicles submit their voter registration form to their county elections office electronically.

Only 44 percent 59 percent of eligible California citizens voted in the 2008 presidential election. Even now, more than 6.5 million Californians are eligible to vote but remain unregistered.

The deadline to register to vote in this November’s election is Monday, Oct. 22.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Common Tater

    You gotta watch those double meanings:

    “About 110,000 Californians registered to vote online during the first week they could.”

    Are they registering online or are they voting online? Yeh, I know what you’re trying to say, but many people will not and will think that they can vote online.

    (Let’s hope not…)

  • Bob Mulholland

    In the early part of the 20th Century it was the Democrats in the Deep South that had all kinds of Regulations to prevent Africans-Americans from registering to vote. In the later part of the 20th Century it was the Republican Party that used all kinds of tactics to reduce Latino voting. In Ca it was Republican Governor Pete Wilson that blocked Motor Voter (register to vote at the DMV, etc) but the Courts ruled Wilson was breaking the law. Both Rep Governors Deukmejian & Wilson vetoed PAV legislation as they feared more Democrats, especially minorities, would vote by mail. It was Governor Davis who signed the PAV legislation and today more Democrats are signed up as PAV voters than Republicans. Governor Davis also signed Speaker Hertzberg’s legislation to move the VR deadline from 29 days to 15 days pre election. And now Governor Brown has signed legislation to allow election day registration. In a state that started drive in church services in the 1970s it is the Democrats that have made it more convenient for US citizes to registe to vote. SOS Bowen has now moved Ca to the next step- on-line registering (why not, Gov Brown just signed legislation to allow driverless cars (could have a better safety record than teenage boy drivers). The Republicans will continue to create systems to prevent our citizens from voting, including blocking veterans, just back from Afghanistan, for not having “proper” ID in Pa. When the Republicans lose the 2016 presidential race (Romney going down in flames this year) they may decide their tactics, with short term gains in some cases and big long term losses, have to end. They could ask Pete Wilson how his Prop 187 (1994) worked out for Republicans in Ca.

  • JohnW

    Darn! Common Tater ruined it for me. I was planning to vote online, several times!

  • JohnW

    Re: #2

    The difference between the Jim Crow era and now is that the former was specifically designed to keep blacks from becoming city councilors, mayors, school board members and sheriffs. Now, the goal is to help Republicans win by making it difficult for some of the Democratic base (low income and elderly blacks; Latino citizens; students) to vote.

    To a Karl Rove, this is just raw politics. To paraphrase from the Godfather, “Tell Michael it’s not racial; it’s just business.”

    However, to the Tea Party “True the Vote” group that is behind this, I believe it is very racist. It fits right in with the “Take our country back” theme — a theme that emerged as the country has become more and more non-white, culminating in that Muslim, Kenyan, anti-colonialist, socialist having the nerve to run for president, and then winning. Not everybody who identifies with the Tea Party is racist of course. However, there undeniably are significant racist elements within the Tea Party movement.

  • Eric McGhee

    I think you mean that only 44% of eligible voted in *2010*. In 2008, the number was 59%: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/historical-voter-reg/hist-voter-reg-and-part-general-elections-1910-2008.pdf

  • JohnW


    Re: your sentence, “Critics say they’re meant to disenfranchise poor, disabled, minority and other voters who are likely to vote Democratic.”

    Usually, I am in the position of defending you and your associates against accusations of biased reporting. In this case, however, I take you task for making it seem that there are two equally valid sides to an argument when there aren’t.

    First, I don’t know of any statistics supporting the notion that poor and disabled people are likely to vote Democratic. More precisely, it’s urban poor (minority and elderly), students and Latinos who are more likely to vote Democratic and who are being targeted by Voter ID, purging of voter registration rolls and reduced early voting. Disabled people might be affected but are not necessarily Democrats. Many low income people outside urban areas are Tea Party — the “keep government hands off my Medicare crowd.”

    Second, your “critics say” line is a bit too neutral for my taste. I know you and your associates are often and unfairly accused of liberal bias in reporting. You have to work hard to establish your credibility as objective journalists. However, sometimes up is up and down is down. It’s not a debate. In the case of the “True the Vote” movement, considering the timing and other circumstances, is there any doubt that it is about affecting the outcome of elections and not about prevention of voting fraud?

  • Josh Richman

    @#5 – Eric, you’re 100 percent correct; I received incorrect information but failed to double-check it, which was my responsibility. I apologize, and have corrected it above.

    @#6 – John, I agree that the motivation seems clear; that’s why I included the link to the WP story refuting the fraud claims. Ultimately, people will have to judge for themselves which side of the argument has the facts on its side.

  • Elwood

    As long as it doesn’t suppress the stupid vote.

  • Steve Weir

    Since on-line registration has been in effect (Sept. 19, 2012) we have received 3,913 registrations via the “on-line” system and 3,789 via paper in Contra Costa County. (Some of these registrations are duplicates, change of party, change of address, etc.) The net increase in registration for that period is 5,315. Those registrants break out as follows:

    Democratic, 58.5%; Republican, 9.0%; American Independent, 3.1%; American Select, fraction; Green, 0.5%; Libertarian, 1.1%; Peace and Freedom, 0.3%; No Party Preference, 26.7%; and Miscellaneous, 0.8%

  • Steve Weir

    #2, I have found in Contra Costa that a higher percent of Republicans are signed up for PAV and a higher percent of them return their voted PAV ballot. (Yes, the gross number of ballots issued and returned are to/from Democrats, because they hold an almost two-to-one registration advantage in Contra Costa County.)

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Let us beware: Once the votes of the crippled, the elderly, the immigrant, and the functionally illiterate are taken away, who will be next? The 53per cent?

  • Bill C

    So… we need to use a form of identification to board an airplane or cash a check, but we don’t need identification in California to vote?? No wonder our state is down the tubes!

  • JAFO

    Re #4

    I’m not a Tea Party member or one of its blind defenders, but to borrow one of your questions, “Do you really want to go there?” Four years ago, in the warm afterglow of Mr. Obama’s election, the media triumphantly announced that the country had entered a new, “post-racial” era. Really?

    We have never, and certainly not in the past four years, been able to have a thoughtful discussion about race and race-related issues in this country, One of the primary reasons is that those on the left (including far too many media representatives) ascribe racial motivation, and often outright racism, to nearly any comment made or position taken by a conservative.

    Watch how quickly and how often the MSNBC talking heads (Mathews, Schultz, Maddow, Sharpton, and their ilk), and like-thinking democratic politicians, liken nearly anything said by conservatives to a racial “dog whistle.” The Rev. Sharpton in particular, built his reputation years ago on what turned out to be a vicious and demonstrably false accusation that a young African-American woman had been raped and sodomized by a white man. Oops! Never mind.

    When I hear someone suggest that certain people are racists, or have “significant racial elements within the(ir)…movement,” I’m reminded of the those who so quickly and disappointingly suggest that someone is a Nazi or a Facist. Such mean-spirited charges are demeaning, seldom supportable and meant solely to cut off meaningful debate. And sadly, that’s too often the end result. Obviously, you’re a well-educated, well-informed and articulate writer. I expect better from you.

  • JohnW

    Re: #13

    I agree with you that the race card often gets played without justification. It’s an intellectually lazy and dishonest way of expressing disagreement with opponents. But when real racism rears its ugly head in the arena of public discourse and political action, it shouldn’t be ignored.

    I very rarely “go there.” When I do, I’ve given it some thought, taken a deep breath and really mean it. The current wave of voter suppression efforts in swing states is racially charged, using the notion of voting integrity as cover. To most people, including me, Voter ID sounds like mom and apple pie. Who could be against that? But the people behind Voter ID and the other forms of voter suppression know exactly what they are doing.

    As for the Tea Party, it seemed to spring from the bailouts in late 2008, instigated in part by the spontaneous rant of a CNBC host (Rick Santelli) and mushroomed from there, fueled by funding from libertarians like Dick Armey and the Kochs. That’s not racist. There’s nothing racist about a coalition of people who want limited government and social conservatism, even though I find many of their public policy specifics whacko. But I won’t back away from the observation that birthers and others who harbor racist notions and who want to be politically active are attracted to the Tea Party. And it is a Tea Party group maliciously leading the movement to disenfranchise blacks and Latinos in 2012.

  • Elwood

    The lunatic left screams that any criticism of the chosen one is racist.

    Don’t like his haircut? You’re a racist.

    Don’t like his tie? You’re a racist.

    Ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

  • JohnW

    Oh, come now, Elwood!

  • Truthclubber

    Disenfranchise the Latino vote?

    No way!

    Pendejos para Romney!