California has a voter turnout problem with two distinct elements. Registration is falling compared to other states, and turnout among those who are registered in midterm elections is down. A new PPIC report examines the state’s challenge and suggests some solutions. Report author and PPIC research fellow Eric McGhee presented it at a briefing in Sacramento last week. He found that each element of the state’s turnout has a different origin in the state’s demographics:
- Registration. The composition of California’s electorate has been changing quickly. Latino and Asian American communities have become eligible to vote at faster rates in California than in other states. But these groups register to vote at lower rates than other Californians, leading to an overall decline in California’s registration rate relative to other states.
- Turnout. One group of the state’s registered voters has become less likely to turn out in midterm elections: young people. The issue here is one of consistency, McGhee said. “Young people are showing up for presidential elections—they’re just not voting in the following midterm,” he said.
What are the solutions? McGhee said that while the state has passed a number of laws to ease voter registration, changes to the process will not necessarily solve the problem. He said these reforms will need to be coupled with aggressive outreach targeting each group—Latinos, Asian Americans, and young voters—to inspire them to participate in elections.
Read the report California’s Missing Voters: Who is Not Voting and Why.