By, Maria Aguilar |Staff Writer|
The 2012 election had a record increase in young and first time voters.
Young voter participation in the 2012 election jumped one percentage point from 2008 levels, although young voters were slightly less likely to vote for President Barack Obama than in 2008, according to the Huffington Post.
This increase is due to California Senator Leland Yee’s new online voter registration law. California now has a record setting 18,245,970 online registered voters for the Nov. 6 election, according to statistics released today by the Secretary of State.
The election fell in the middle of the quarter when CSUSB students were finishing midterms and preparing their school schedule for next quarter. The new online registration allows busy students, some who are first time voters, a faster way to register.
“As a first time voter I felt privileged to be part of a historic event. I registered online and it was definitely easier. Voting was like fulfilling a duty not only to the nation but the world as a whole,” said student Charity Dumpit.
According to an article released by Senator Yee’s Chief of Staff Representative, Adam Keigwin, more than one million people used the system to register and 79 percent of these people were first time voters.
The social media era we live in today helped advertise this new method of registering for the election and aided in reminding potential voters of the registration deadline.
According to the LA Times, California has 6.5 million non-registered voters. However Yee’s new law reduced the non-registered voter’s number.
Oct. 22 marked the last day to register, which became the “largest voter registration day in the history of the United States.”
Identity verification of voters who register using this online method is acquired through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) database. The information stored at the DMV is cross-checked with the electronic form submitted online.
Instead of signing the form in person, voters authorize the use of their DMV signature to complete the application, according to the registration guidelines on ca.gov.
Despite the fact that the online world is vulnerable to hackers, some voters feel this is a safer way to register versus completing an application with a registered gatherer.
“I’d rather do it online than give it [my information] to someone who can steal my identity,” said CSUSB alumni, Audrea Diaz.
While identity theft both in person and online are a concern, security measures are in place, according to Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
The increased number of voters has set a new record for California.
“California now has over 18 million voters-the highest in our state’s history,” said Yee. “I am thrilled to see so many Californians participating in our democracy. While other states tried to suppress the vote, we dramatically increased our voter rolls. The success of online registrations has been a tremendous boost to young people and first time voters.”
Online registered voters were 30.8 percent of young adults between the ages of 18-24.
Not only was there an increase in registered voters, but the new voters affected the demographics of Democrats and Republicans in California. 48.9 percent of new voters registered as Democrats while 19 percent as Republicans, according to Keigwin.
Millions of potential voters in California remain unregistered. Yee’s new online registration law is accessible through the click of a mouse or push of a button on a cell phone.
This easy access registration method has the potential to shift the make-up of political parties in California as more unregistered voters become active participants in our democracy in the future.