Record Turnout of New Voters Expected for California Primary

Jun 2, 2016

California’s June 7th Primary election may see the largest increase in new voters in decades.

The Monterey County Elections Office looks like a department store at Christmas. New voters are registering to vote.  Others are asking questions.  And the staff is gearing up for what is likely to be a very busy night.

Registrar of Voters Claudio Valenzuela says the much of the rush is being caused by new voters. “We have 14,000 more registered voters than we had four years ago, and the last three months there has been a surge,” says Valenzuela.

In Santa Cruz County the number of registered voters has increased by 7,000 since just the first of the year.

Statewide, more than 850,000 Californians have joined the voter rolls since the first of the year.  According to Political Data Inc., the largest block of new voters is young people. One out of four of the new voters is under 25; two thirds are under 35.

Some of those new voters could be found at a recent Hillary Clinton rally in Salinas like first time voter Rachel Biggio. She turned 18 in April. She says she has been following the election closely.

“I think this is an incredibly pivotal election,” says Biggio. “We’ve seen a lot of anger come out in this country with the emergence of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. I think there are a lot of important issued to deal with: reproductive rights, immigration.  All those are really important this year.”

Four days later and across the bay in Santa Cruz, first time voter Christian Michalak waits in line at a Bernie Sanders rally. He likes how Sanders is self-funding his campaign. He’s also angry at claims that Hillary Clinton has the nomination wrapped up.

Michalak says, “I think it is kind of a scam. I think that people are getting ripped off with these super delegates. I honestly don’t think it is fair at all.”

“Political parties are not public institutions,” says Phil Trounstein, co-founder of the political news website CalBuzz. He loves politics the way most people love their kids.

He says people wrongly think the presidential primaries are run by the government. They are not. The Presidential primaries are political party functions and the parties make the rules.

And those rules mean the delegate count is not likely to shift in the California Primary.

“There’s a total of 548 delegates, neither Clinton nor Sanders is going to get them all,” says Trounstein.  “They are going to be divided up probably proportionally to some extent. So in the end Sanders, even if he won the statewide vote, which he could do, it is not enough delegates to make a big difference for him.”

Back at the Clinton rally in Salinas, Rachel Biggio shows the enthusiasm of young voters. She says voting Tuesday will fulfill a long time dream.

“I turned 18 in April and I have always wanted to be an involved citizen, so I registered like a week after I turned 18,” says Biggio.

Polls are open Tuesday, June 7th 7:00am to 8:00pm.   If you are voting by mail, you ballot must arrive at your County Elections Office by Tuesday or you can drop it off at your polling place.