California Voters Register in Record Numbers

Democrats increase numbers; Republicans lose 300,000

More than a million Californians have registed to vote since Sept. 5 and California now has record 17.3 million registered voters, according to Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

“Voter interest in this historic election is enormous and I expect to see a record number of Californians cast ballots on Tuesday." Bowen said. "Thanks to everyone -- including community groups, elections workers, campaigns, schools and businesses -– who
helped register so many new California voters.”

Democrats have increased their numbers by half a million. Republicans have lost 300,000 supporters while Independents (Decline to State) have jumped to nearly one out of every five voters.

Democrats believe the Obama tidal wave will sweep into the statehouse as well, where they believe they can capture enough seats for a two/thirds supermajority. That would give them enough strength to push through virtually any legislation they want with only Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a potential hurdle.

Voting started early in the Bay Area with a crush of people heading to the polls over the weekend, days ahead of Tuesday's election.

About 20 percent of registered voters in San Francisco have already cast their ballots, some even waiting in the rain Saturday in lines that extended to outside City Hall.

More than 13,000 of the city's 478,000 registered voters voted  early at the San Francisco Department of Elections' voting counter, a steep increase from the 8,300 ballots that had been cast at City Hall three days before the November 2004 election, according to election officials.

In addition, of the 200,000 vote-by-mail ballots the department has sent out, more than 90,000 have been returned.

The department expects lines to form before sunrise at hundreds of polling places on Election Day. The busiest times to vote have typically been from the polls' opening at 7 a.m. until about 9:30 a.m., from noon until about 2:30 p.m., and from 5 p.m. until the polls close at 8 p.m., according to election officials.

Any voter in line when the polls close will be allowed to vote, but those who arrive after 8 p.m. can't join a line to cast ballots. They will be out of luck.

The polls opened Monday in San Francisco at 8:30 a.m. for early voting.  Long lines are expected at polling places across the Bay Area.

At least 40 percent of California's registered voters are expected to vote by mail.

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