The Youth in California Registering to Vote in Record Numbers

The state of California is experiencing a huge surge of new voter registrations and although there’s a hint that some of it may be a protest vote to keep Trump out, a good amount of the voters are likely signing up to support Bernie Sanders. That is if you pay attention to the youth demographic that he has dominated in most states.

41% of the new registrations were under the age of 30, an age group that has favored Sanders heavily. In most of the states that have already voted, he generally grabbed 2/3 to 3/4 of the youth vote and California will likely be the same.

Paul Mitchell of Capitol Weekly writes:

Overall, registration has skyrocketed in the first months of 2016.  There have been over 850,000 registrations in the months between January 1 and March 31.

Californians have taken advantage of the Secretary of State’s Online Voter Registration site to register to vote or update their registration information ahead of the registration cutoff date of May 23, 2016. Over 560,000 have used the online method, with another 300,000 using traditional methods. Over 200,000 were between the age of 17 and 25.

“Online voter registration is empowering a new generation of Californians,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “We are witnessing a wave of young Californians engaging in the democratic process. The timing says everything—they want to vote.”


Key data:(pulled from

  • In January 2016, there were 92,278 completed new voter registrations or registration updates through the voter registration website. 36% of these registrations were by voters ages 17-25.
  • In February 2016, there were 146,951 completed new voter registrations or registration updates through the voter registration website. 38% of these registrations were by voters ages 17-25.
  • In March 2016, there have been 323,009 completed new voter registrations or registration updates through the voter registration website. Nearly 36% of these registrations have been by voters ages 17-25.
  • To put this in context, in all of 2014 there were only 425,220 completed registrations or updated registrations through the voter registration website.

“All eyes will be on California on June 7. It is vital that California voters cast a ballot to shape the future of our state and nation. The stakes could not be higher during this election season, and I encourage every eligible citizen to vote in the June 7 Presidential Primary Election,” Padilla added.

Total CA Online Voter Registration by Month (March 2015 – March 2016)

CA SOS Chart
Chart courtesy of

“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 an interview on Capital Public Radio Mitchell states that the number of new registrants is twice what it was in the 2012 election cycle. To go along with the 41% in the under 30 crowd, a full 73% of the registrants were under the age of 49. Those are huge numbers and if Sanders can get his message out to them he has chance to win the state by a landslide.

Mitchell says the biggest surges came on high-profile election days like Super Tuesday. He also says the number of Democrats or “no party preference” voters re-registering to vote in the Republican primary is minuscule when compared to the total number of eligible GOP voters.

“At first, there was a lot of Republican registration around this primary,“ Mitchell says. “But as we got into the later months and the greatest conversation about Donald Trump, it seems as though there’s a reflexive turnout boom among Democrats and Latinos because of the national conversation.”

17 year old citizens, who will be 18 or older by the next election, can register to vote. 

Also of note in California, many people have mistaken the American Independent Party for what they thought was “independent” or “no party affiliation.” It seems many voters have erroneously registered for the wrong party. In order to participate in California’s semi-closed Primary on June 7, voters will need to change their registration by May 23, to Democrat or No Party Preference in order to cast a vote for Sanders or the other Democratic candidate.


G.A. Dunlap