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California Voters Take Advantage Of Same Day Voting

Krista Almanzan
Monterey County Registrar Claudio Valenzuela moves of box of conditonal voter / same day voter registration ballots.

Statewide election results will be certified by Friday.  As the final numbers come in, there's a new number to look for: how many people registered and voted on the same day.  This was California’s first general election to allow same day voting. 

On Election Day, the line to vote spilled out the door at the Monterey County Elections Office in Salinas.    We were caught a little bit by surprise by the numbers,” says Registrar of Voters Claudio Valenzuela. 

Local Elections Offices are one of the only places you can vote conditionally in California.  That’s where you register and vote on the same day, up to and on Election Day.   Normally the last day to register to vote is 15 days before the election.

Governor Jerry Brown signed the same day voting bill into law back in 2012, but it only became available in statewide elections this year.

In Monterey County, just over 600 people voted conditionally in the November 6th Election.  “I can tell you the majority of those folks were very young.  Some of them expressed that they were students from CSUMB,” says Valenzuela.

Santa Cruz County had over 2000 people take advantage of same day voting.

Eric McGhee is a Research Fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California.  He says conditional voting laws tend to help poorer people who move around a lot and the young.

“This is a reform that's really targeted to those kinds of people who are eligible, who are citizens, they are of voting age, but they just don't realize necessarily that that they're going to be so excited about the election until Election Day itself comes,” says McGhee.

Statewide about 55,000 people used same day voting during the general election.  That’s according to numbers from county elections offices and the Secretary of State.

“Not huge, right, for a state that has 19 million registered voters. But the thing is, this election cycle it might have helped decide some of these super duper close races,” says McGhee.

Sixteen other states along with the District of Columbia also allow same day voting. 

Krista joined KAZU in 2007. She is an award winning journalist with more than a decade of broadcast experience. Her stories have won regional Edward R. Murrow Awards and honors from the Northern California Radio and Television News Directors Association. Prior to working at KAZU, Krista reported in Sacramento for Capital Public Radio and at television stations in Iowa. Like KAZU listeners, Krista appreciates the in-depth, long form stories that are unique to public radio. She's pleased to continue that tradition in the Monterey Bay Area.