SACRAMENTO (AP) — California has reached an all-time high of 18.2 million registered voters while the number of registered Republicans has fallen below 30 percent, signaling a worrisome decline for the state’s minority party.

In its final update before Tuesday’s general election, the secretary of state’s office announced Friday that 950,000 new voters have signed up since the 2008 presidential contest. Officials attribute that surge, in part, to the state’s new online registration system, which attracted many new young, Democratic-leaning voters this fall.

That system was seen as a threat to the ranks of the California Republican Party, which has struggled to maintain voters, let alone add them. The secretary of state announced that Republicans now make up 29.3 percent of the state’s electorate, compared with 31.4 percent in 2008.

The GOP now has about 1.5 million more voters in the state than those registered as having no party preference. Independent voters account for 21 percent of the electorate.

Democrats make up 43.7 percent of voters, a slight decline from four years ago.

California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro questioned the gains Democrats made this election cycle through online voter registration. Republicans opposed the accelerated push to online voter registration because “we didn’t feel there was enough study or safeguards reviewed,” he said.

“We’re going to have to see whether those are valid registrations or actual voters,” Del Beccaro said.

He also said migration patterns have played a role in explaining part of the decline of the GOP in California, noting the number of Californians who have left the state over the past decade.

“A lot of those are Republican voters, and it’s making it doubly difficult for us to retain above the 30 percent level,” Del Beccaro said.

The total number of people registered to vote in California is roughly equivalent to the total population of Florida.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.)


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