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California voter registration hits record ahead of midterms

Photo: Michael Bentley / CC BY 2.0 via MGN, file

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — More than 19.6 million Californians are registered to vote in the midterms, the largest number in California history, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Friday.

"It is nearly unprecedented for California to set a voter registration record in a midterm election," Padilla said.

Nearly four in five eligible Californians is registered to vote, the largest share of the eligible population heading into a gubernatorial election in almost 70 years, according to Padilla's office.

The numbers come as voters appear highly energized for the election that will determine what party controls Congress.

The tally is likely buoyed by California's new automatic voter registration program, known "motor voter" because it registers eligible people who visit the Department of Motor Vehicles unless they opt out.

It took effect in April, with more than 3 million people registering or updating their registration through the program at the start of last month, according to the DMV.

Over 1.8 million more California residents are registered to vote heading into Election Day than were registered ahead of the 2014 midterm.

Democrats and no-party-preference make up a larger part of the electorate both in numbers and as a percentage. Republicans are a smaller share, numerically and as a percentage, making up less than a quarter of registered voters.

California's voter registration deadline passed Oct. 22, but residents can still register to vote conditionally in the November election at county elections offices and some other locations.

More than 3 million people have already voted ahead of Election Day, according to the nonpartisan firm Political Data Inc.

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